Between the Sittings is one of a small group of studio interiors painted by Lavery in the 1880s. It shows an unidentified, yet familiar model playing a piano during one of her rest periods. The model in the present work is that who appears in A Conquest, 1882 (probably originally A Heart for a Rose, Glasgow Art Galleries and Museums), which is the picture resting on the floor in the background. The same model was used for many works of the period including After the Dance, 1883 (private collection, on loan to Ferens Art Gallery, Kingston upon Hull; see K. McConkey, Edinburgh, 1993, pls. 15 and 16). The upright piano is likely to be that to be seen behind the lady in A Visit to the Studio, 1885 (sold in these Rooms, 19 May 2000, lot 51 for £223,750; private collection), and we may assume that both interiors represent Lavery's studio at 160 Bath Street in Glasgow. Other studio impedimenta are equally recognizable. The Tudor-style chair, for instance, appears in at least one other painting and whilst it is not possible to identify the other pictures on the wall in the background, it is not unreasonable to claim that since one of them is a small full-length portrait, Lavery was attempting to position himself for his future role.
Three other noteworthy interiors should be mentioned in connection with the present work. These are Her Portrait, circa 1882 and A Quiet Day in the Studio, 1884 (both Glasgow Art Galleries and Museums) and A Girl in Black, 1887 (lot 41). All three show pensive female sitters alone in the studio. All contain references to other paintings, connecting them, with A Visit to the Studio, to the continuum of Lavery's work. Only Between the Sittings proposes an almost anecdotal set of circumstances conveyed in the model's concentration upon a piece of sheet music.