In August 1926 Christopher Wood travelled to Cornwall with Tony Gandarillas. Wood's family on his mother's side had originated from North Cornwall and it may be that he felt a familial tie with the county. It was to make a huge impression on the young artist: 'Cornwall is beautiful, rather austere, but I think that if I am here long enough I shall paint good things' (quoted in R. Ingleby, Christopher Wood: An English Painter, London, 1995, p. 133).
The Red Cottage, Mousehole, Cornwall was painted in 1928, which was a crucial year in Wood's artistic development, as it was in late August or early September of this year that Wood accompanied Ben Nicholson on a further trip to St Ives and they 'discovered' Alfred Wallis (see lot 43). The subject matter of boats and lighthouses had previously appeared in Wood's paintings (see lot 46), however, the discovery of an artist who was completely self taught made a deep impression on both Nicholson and Wood.
Ben and his wife, Winifred, left St Ives in mid October and Wood stayed on in Cornwall to continue painting. He befriended local people and included them in his paintings of the locality. Sebastian Faulks writes about Wood's paintings of this period, '... the sea, darkly dressed fisherpeople, drama, strangeness, something primitive; the homely human figures set against a background of wildness and mystery, expressed in misleadingly simple terms. It was in the human figures that Wood was distinctive. He was the only serious English painter between the two wars who continued to believe that a picture could deal with the lives of people' (see The Fatal Englishman: Three Short Lives, London, 1996, p. 69).
Eleanor, Countess Castle-Stewart, who purchased the present work from the Redfern Gallery in March 1938, married Arthur, 7th Earl in 1920 and was the daughter of Solomon R. Guggenheim.