This drawing is recorded as No. 2181 in the Henry Moore Foundation Archives.
In 1943 the Vicar of St. Matthew's in Northampton approached Moore with a request for a Madonna and Child to be installed in the church. At first Moore was hesitant; the great tradition of religious art seemed like an anachronism in the twentieth century, and Moore wanted to avoid creating something decorative and sentimental. Without agreeing to comply he began to create drawings to explore the idea, and execute works in clay and bronze. "All these drawings connected with this commission have qualities of timelessness and universality but above all they are permeated by feelings of compassionate understanding and melancholy." (A. Garrould, Henry Moore Drawings, New York, 1988, p. 23). Moore completed the commissioned sculpture in 1944.