Artists' Beach Colony

Artists' Beach Colony

Ivon Hitchens, Irina and Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson and Mary Jenkins on holiday at Happisburgh in 1931.

The figures gazing straight ahead, and apparently into the future, are Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson - the latter seated but all set to spring. So much of the story of progressive 20th century British art will rest on them.

Any sense of tension from this holiday snap is not entirely due to the fomenting of radical art on a working holiday, though Moore and Hepworth, modernist sculptors sharing Yorkshire roots (and a smoking habit), are even now rivals as well as allies.

No, the electricity is more personal. Barbara - serpentine as a Norfolk flint as she fixes her hair - has just fallen in love with Ben. Her sculptor husband John Skeaping will soon arrive from London in a last-ditch bid to save the marriage and find he is too late. Up in Cumberland with her children and paints, Winifred Nicholson is in for bad news.