Ford Madox Ford and Stella Bowen’s relationship began to deteriorate in 1924 when he became involved with Jean Rhys, whose novel Quartet is a semi-autobiographical account of their affair. In 1926 Ford went on a lecture tour of America, and it was around this time that Bowen’s interest in painting intensified. Freed from some of the demands Ford made on her time, she began a series of paintings reflecting her personal and domestic life.
During this period, her work traces her feelings about the gradual separation from Ford, as well as the search for her identity as an artist facing life as a single mother. She painted portraits of family and friends, but also still lifes, nudes, interiors and, particularly, evocative studies of windows and hands, each imbued with the resonance of her inner world.