James Dafforne, writing in the Art Journal of 1871 noted that this picture was 'purchased, when on the easel, by Mr. Robert Crossman, of Cheswick House, Northumberland', the house from which it is now being sold. He goes on to remark that the subject 'is treated very skilfully and pleasantly. The sailor, who may have been a 'ne'er-do-weel' as a youngster, has grown into a stalwart man during his long absence at sea, so that even his mother, who throws her arms round his neck, scarcely recognises him; while the grandmother peers through her spectacles with a still more dubious look. The sister seems at once to accept him, and with a welcome smile; but his younger brother lifts his head from the porridge-basin with an air of incredulity or of indifference; while the dog, as is the wont of the animals, sniffs round the legs of the stranger, uncertain as yet whether it is his duty to seize them, or to give their owner a hearty greeting. The group is put together with much ingenuity, and the feeling thrown into its component parts is appropriate and pointed'.
Dafforne starts his article by remarking: 'Beyond the northernmost part of the United Kingdom the works of this artist are comparatively little known; for, unlike the majority of Scottish painters he has, we believe, never exhibited either in London, or in the galleries of provincial towns south of the Tweed. Yet in Scotland his works are much sought after, and he holds a good position among the painters of genre subjects; helping to sustain the reputation of the school with which he is associated.'
This picture is a pendant to Leaving Home, exhibited by Ross in 1862 at the Royal Scottish Academy and purchased by the Scottish Association.