The son of landscape and portrait artist Sir William Nicholson, Ben Nicholson spent much of his childhood in his company, travelling across Europe and inheriting his taste for still-lives and landscapes. Despite this family bond he eventually developed his own visual identity unique from his fathers as a prolific painter, printmaker and designer.
In the 1920s he began to paint both figuratively and in an abstract manor, inspired by the surge of avant-garde art coming from the continent. He was a member of the Seven and Five Society between 1924-35, where he met the sculptor Barbara Hepworth, whom he would eventually marry. Much of his abstract work is composed on 'constructivist' principles, exhibiting clean lines, mathematical precision and an absence of ornament.