Charles Mahoney was commissioned to produce a mural scheme for the Lady Chapel at Campion Hall in 1941. The scheme was to be made up primarily of three large panels: the Nativity and Adoration of the Shepherds, the Coronation of the Virgin, and Our Lady of Mercy. In detail and composition the paintings owe much to early Italian example. The most notable case is Our Lady of Mercy (Autumn), clearly inspired by Piero della Francesca’s altarpiece at Borgo San Sepolcro. Electing to paint directly onto canvas fixed to the walls and by daylight hours only, the project inevitably became drawn out and Mahoney could only work in situ during the Easter and summer vacations when he was not teaching. The project continued into the following decade and coincided with a serious decline in the artist’s physical health. In spite of these problems, Sir John Rothenstein, who chose to reproduce one of the murals as a plate in British Art since 1900 (1962, pl.60), was moved to describe the scheme as as second …only to that by Stanley Spencer at Burghclere’.
This is a full size study for the Angel to the left of the Altar at Campion Hall Chapel. Whilst the two compositions are almost identical, Mahoney only got as far as putting in the underdrawing in the Chapel design itself. In the finished painting, here, the wild folliage, which dominates the Chapel composition, is trimmed back to reveal a suburban setting, the walls and rooftops, less visible in the Chapel version, underpinning the composition.