Nicholson was at the centre of the London-based British avant-garde. Shortly before the war he moved to Cornwall with his wife Barbara Hepworth and their children. To earn a living he abandoned his white reliefs of the 1930s and returned to painting landscapes, which his dealers Alex Reid & Lefevre considered easier to sell. Landscapes, particularly those of British scenes, became popular during the war. This view of the harbour at St Ives is one of a series begun in 1939. They enabled Nicholson to develop ideas of the previous decade, particularly his experimentation with the positioning of objects in space. He added the Union Jack in the foreground as a gesture to celebrate V.E. Day and the end of the war.