'...is the finest pastel drawing I have ever made....'
Stott's thoughts on this pastel are interesting as, although predominantly a painter in oils, he executed a number of pastels initially as preparatory sketches. Through the years, however, his mindset seems to have changed, and indeed it might have been this pastel in particular that persuaded him to concentrate more on the medium than he had previously. Certainly, his output in pastel post- 1912 in pastel was significantly greater.
This composition is based around an oil painting entitled 'The Cottage Madonna', currently in The Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston. In both works the scene is of a mother and child (similar models were used) placed in front of a window, with flowers to one side. The differences though are marked. In our pastel the scene is set at night, with the soft glow of a full moon shining through the window. The mother is lovingly giving a gentle kiss to the child's cheek, perhaps soothing him after a nightmare. From the superb handling that Stott has given this work, it might be assumed that he was painting his own wife and child. However, Stott died a bachelor. It would be fanciful, but not unreasonable, to assume, therefore, that in the moment of painting this pastel, Stott was imagining another life, where the tenderness of his family was all important.
The recipient of the pastel, Alfred Rigg, is a mystery, as is the last line 'I hope you will receive them safely.' Maybe Stott sent more than one pastel to Alfred Rigg of a similar subject, which begs the question, were the models Rigg's wife and child? History does not currently relate.