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Studland Beach is in a quiet bay in Dorset. The idea of the beach as a place for leisure activities was relatively new in 1912. It is a sign of their modernity that Vanessa Bell and her Bloomsbury Group friends holidayed there.This is one of several works by Bell from 1911–2 which show a debt to Matisse in their simplified design and bold colouring. Though an exercise in what her friends called ‘significant form’ (emphasising form rather than subject matter), the picture retains some of the feel of a sunny day spent on the sand and in the water.

July 2007