Graham Sutherland OM 1903-1980

Graham Sutherland abandoned an engineering career to study etching at Goldsmiths' College (1921-6). Until 1930 he made his living through etchings, working in the visionary Romantic style of Samuel Palmer. The collapse in the print market led him to take up painting in the 1930s; with his first visit to Pembrokeshire in 1934 he began to develop his distinctive landscape vision of 'imaginative paraphrase' and anthropomorphic abstraction, as inWelsh Landscape with Roads (1936; London, Tate). In 1936 he exhibited at the International Surrealist Exhibition in London. Sutherland was commissioned as a war artist in 1940, recording the effects of bombing in London, and the work of the Cornish miners. After the war he travelled abroad for the first time, to the south of France; he also began to paint portraits, which were generally acclaimed, although sometimes controversial, for example Somerset Maugham (1949; London, Tate), and Winston Churchill (1954; destr.). He converted to Roman Catholicism in 1926, he also executed a number of religious commissions, including a Crucifixion (1944) for S. Matthew's, Northampton, and a tapestry design, Christ in Glory (1954-7), for Coventry Cathedral. He was awarded the Order of Merit in 1960.

 

THE OXFORD COMPANION TO WESTERN ART