The picture was painted at the Collins’s house, Swan cottage, on the outskirts of Totnes in Devon. Collins had married Elisabeth Ramsden, a fellow student at the Royal College of Art, in 1931, and she was to become the most important influence on his work, appearing in many of his paintings and prints. The Devonshire landscape is prominently visible through the large window behind the figures. The central path, with two neat areas of lawn on either side, leads to an area of open land with a wooden pavilion on the right and a lake to the left. Each feature in the scene, although based on the real view, has a symbolic function. For example the carefully arranged seven swans on the lake, the shrine near the hill’s summit and the mysterious cloaked figures all suggest that they are part of a world beyond that which we can see and feel. In addition the many-facetted surface, created by hatching and scoring, allows the onlookers, according to the artist, to ‘be able to go right into a painting, so that they enter a world in which more and more experiences are unfolded’ (quoted in Anderson, p.120).
David Mellor, A Paradise Lost: The Neo-Romantic Imagination in Britain 1935-55, exhibition catalogue, Barbican Art Gallery, London 1987, no.55, pp.16-20, reproduced in colour pl.8
William Anderson, Cecil Collins: The Quest for the Great Happiness, London 1988, pp.51-2, reproduced in colour, pl. 29
Judith Collins, Cecil Collins: A Retrospective Exhibition, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1989, no.15, p.80, reproduced in colour, p.45,