The fusion of still-life with landscape was a distinctive theme of Frances Hodgkins’s work from the late 1920s. In Berries and Laurel, she releases the still-life from its typical domestic interior setting and places it out of doors, altering the scale so that the still-life objects appear to loom above the miniature trees.
At this stage of her career, her landscape and still-life genres were particularly associated with the progressive Seven and Five Society, which she was invited to join in 1929, marking the recognition of her work by the British avant-garde. In reviewing one of her exhibitions, Eric Newton noted: 'She can... make certain colours 'sing' as they have never done before – in particular a certain milky purplish-pink, a most unpromising colour: she can make greys and browns look positively rapturous: she can juggle with colour orchestrally'.
The secret of Hodgkins's unique colouration appears to be the combination of disparate hues facilitated by combining powder colours with tube paints. Contrasting pigments – viridian (green), carbon black, lead white, organic red and yellow – are the basis of the musty pink found around the border of Berries and Laurel.