This painting was the last in the 'Shipbuilding' series completed between January and March 1946 from a study made in May 1940. Spencer had begun to lose interest as he became involved in the 'Resurrection' series at the end of the Second World War. The War Artist's Advisory Committee was being brought to an end and Muirhead Bone pressed Spencer to produce a central panel to conclude the series in February 1946. The canvas size was reduced so that he could finish it sooner, much to Spencer's regret. In a letter to Daphne Charlton in May/June 1941, Spencer discusses ideas for the 'Furnace' painting, which was completed five years later: 'The Furnace scene is big & important in its pictorial sense, but that is not enough. In the sheep & cow farming in Switzerland, there was that ceremony of praying as the sheep went by themselves back up into the mountains. But I would prefer something not so formal or...artificial. Religion as I mean it is implicit in everything as a heaven passing through everything...Love & passion, religious or sexual is the only thing I wish to express & anything I undertake must assist me to that end. I am sure I shall find a way of 'getting my own way' in this painting, as I did at Burghclere.'