Like the work of many of his contemporaries , Bomberg’s painting underwent a transformation during the years immediately after the Great War. The precise, abstract geometry of his early works gave way to a more dynamic, agitated structure that hinted at certain unrest. This new style is particularly apparent in a series devoted to the bargees of London’s canals, which was shown at the Adelphi Gallery in London and in the London Group Exhibition of 1919.
The sketchy , impastoed technique and dull palette of the Bargee (Mother and Child) belonging to the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection prefigures the Expressionistic style of his final period, although the rigid , geometrised composition is closer to his pre-war abstract works. The bird’s eye view of the woman with a baby on her lap, in a stiff pose as if both were imprisoned on the barge, and the deep melancholy he succeeds in conveying attest to Bomberg’s interest in underprivileged members of society.