We are grateful to Kenneth McConkey for providing us with this and the following entries for Sir John Lavery.
In this unusual early work Lavery demonstrated his awareness of a range of contemporary painting beyond that of the 'gluepot' school which was popular with unsophisticated Glasgow collectors. Although a catholic, Lavery was not particularly devout. The present work is therefore exceptional at a time when the young painter was obliged to produce potboilers for easy sale.
Having recently spent an unhappy year in London, at Heatherley's School of Art, he must have acquainted himself with what was currently in vogue. He may also have entertained hopes of entering the Slade School of Fine Art which was still in its infancy, but was growing in popularity. He would therefore have seen the work of Alphonse Legros who was Professor of Fine Art at the Slade, and who specialized in views of French provincial churches with peasants at prayer. This may explain the odd departure to religious subject matter in the present work. Aspects of the handling, in the drapery and in the foreshortened figures in the background recall Legros.