The setting for the present work is Black Park, a country park in Buckinghamshire, near to the Nash's family home in Iver Heath, which has a large lake surrounded by pine trees.
'The lake was surrounded on one side by a fence and in his paintings Nash contrasts the natural forms of the trees with the sharp human barrier of the fence in the foreground. In different studies of this location, and in different media, the balance and contrast between the fence and trees are explored. At all times the landscape contains a hidden mystery, but unlike the studies of the Wood Lane garden Black Park seems to withhold a sinister secret' (see exhibition catalogue, Paul Nash Places, Eastbourne, Towner Art Gallery, 1989, p. 13).
The park is situated next to Pinewood Film Studios and has been used as an outdoor location for many films, including Goldfinger (1964), Sleepy Hollow (1999) and Casino Royale (2006).
Andrew Causey comments, 'Association of the female with a dark wooded landscape recurs in some of the series that includes Dark Pond [the present work], Dark Lake, [1917, private collection], Flora [1917, private collection] A Lake in a Wood [1916, private collection], for all of which the setting is the lake in the middle of Black Park at Iver Heath ... Nash described the entrance to the dark woods of Black Park in Outline as a 'forest tunnel'. The blackness which gave the woodland its name complemented Nash's emotional state, and his treatment of it became increasingly effective as he progressed from the rounded shapes of Dark Pond to the harsh and angular forms of A Lake in a Wood [1916, private collection], which suggests that Nash found the expressive forms of Vorticism an equivalent for the sense of death in whose shadow he was constantly living. In a letter to his wife from the battle-front in 1917, he wrote: 'I begin to believe in the Vorticist doctrine of destruction almost'' (op. cit., pp. 61-2).