This work was the central section of a triptych (three-part picture) called Woman’s Mission exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1863. The two other parts, Guide of Childhood and Comfort of Old Age, are now lost. These showed the woman tending her son and ministering to her father in old age.
This painting shows the same woman comforting her husband, who has just received bad news. The Times newspaper described the works as representing ‘woman in three phases of her duties as ministering angel’.