In 1939, Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth were invited by Adrian Stokes to move to the then remote fishing village and artist's colony of St. Ives in Cornwall, where Nicholson would remain until 1958. The beautifully rugged landscape had an immediate impact on Nicholson's art and he often made trips in and around the area of St. Ives, sketching motifs from his favorite locations like Lelant, Mount's Bay and Zennor located southwest of St. Ives.
1956, January (Zennor Head) displays the growing complexity of Nicholson's paintings of the 1950s. Because of its horizontal orientation, the imagery of his still-lifes would often resemble paranoramic vistas of landscape, no doubt inspired by his surroundings. Shades of brown, ochre, and light blue evoke the autumnal mood of a natural setting.
His still-lifes of the 1950s reflect Nicholson's integration of the tangible world in the abstract realm. "Reviewing the range of Nicholson's still-lifes of the fifties...they preserve a basically Cubist viewpoint, particularly in emphasis on planar structure, multiple perspectives, and the intergration of form and space: for comparative purposes the lucid geometrics of Juan Gris and the lyrical variations of Synthetic Cubism introduced by Braque are highly relevant. Better than any other Englishman of his generation, Nicholson understood that Cubism was not simply a matter of applying stylisations to nature but a whole new way of pictorial construction..."(S.A. Nash, Ben Nicholson, Fifty Years of His Art, New York, 1978, pp. 28-29, 33-34).