Jeremy Lewison, Ben Nicholson, Tate Gallery, 1993, p223. This is one of seven small versions of this composition, the large oils 1940-42 (two forms) and 1940-3 (two forms), are in the collections of Southampton City Art Gallery and The National Museum of Wales, Cardiff.
In 1939, a few days before Britain declared war on Germany, Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth left London with their children for Cornwall. At first they stayed at the home of Adrian Stokes and Margaret Mellis in Carbis Bay. In September 1942 they moved further south to Chy-an-Kerris, where the present work was completed.
Painting 1940-42 can be seen as a smaller version of two oil paintings, 1940-2 at Southampton City Art Gallery and 1940-3 at the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff. Writing on these particular canvases, Norbert Lynton notes, ‘the sand, sea and sky effect of a triple background’, whose colour constituents were meticulously measured and applied (Norbert Lynton, Ben Nicholson, London, 1998, p 107-9). These dramatic double form paintings, which suggest the sculptural volume of Nicholson’s reliefs, document a charge in focus for the artist brought about by the move to Cornwall.