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Bomberg received an official commission to paint an enormous underground bomb store during World War Two; this is one of many studies for the painting. Bomberg was greatly inspired by the sight of thousands of bombs stacked in a disused mine. The strongly-coloured composition suggests the destructive potential of such an arsenal.

The sense of foreboding and imminent destruction that seems to inhabit the studies was unusually prescient. A few years later, 3,500 tons of explosives were accidentally ignited at the store, causing the largest-ever explosion in Britain.

September 2004