During the Second World War Sam Francis served as a pilot with the American armed forces. He took up painting while recovering from a flying accident in 1944. From 1950-7 he lived in Paris, where he saw first-hand the paintings of Monet, Matisse, Cézanne and Bonnard. In September 1956 he visited an exhibition of Monet's 'Water Lilies', paintings which had aroused his interest for some time and which had an impact on his work. For Francis each colour has a symbolic value: white corresponds to the infinite, blue to the cosmos and water, and yellow to the sun. His experience as a pilot has a bearing on paintings such as this one, which have the appearance of aerial views and communicate the silence of the skies.