Graham (Vivian) Sutherland was born on August 24, 1903, in Streatham near London. After an apprenticeship and working as an engineer for the railroad, Graham Sutherland studied art at Goldsmiths’ College School of Art in London from 1920 until 1925. His early works consist mainly of landscapes with surrealistic overtones.
Printmaking, mostly of romantic landscapes, dominated Sutherland’s work during the 1920s. He developed his art by working in watercolour’s before switching to using oil paints in the 1940s. It is these oil paintings, often of surreal, organic landscapes of the Pembrokeshire coast, that secured his reputation as a leading British modern artist. Sutherland taught at a number of art colleges, notably at Chelsea School of Art and at Goldsmiths College, where he had been a student. He served as an official war artist in the Second World War drawing industrial scenes on the British home front.
Such was Sutherland’s standing in post-war Britain that he was commissioned to design the massive central tapestry in the new Coventry Cathedral. A number of portrait commissions in the 1950s proved highly controversial. Winston Churchill hated Sutherland’s depiction of him. After initially refusing to be presented with it at all, he accepted it disparagingly as “a remarkable example of modern art“.
In 1955, Sutherland and his wife purchased a property near Nice. Living abroad led to something of a decline in his status in Britain. However, a visit to Pembrokeshire in 1967, his first trip there in nearly twenty years, led to a creative renewed his reputation as a leading British artist.
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Graham Sutherland Lithographs