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Born in London, Sutherland (1903-1980) studied engraving and etching at Goldsmiths College 1920-25, at a time of great interest in these print techniques, and in the oeuvres of essentially British printmakers such as William Blake, Samuel Palmer and J.M.W.Turner – an enthusiasm shared with his contemporaries Henry Moore and Paul Nash. Sutherland only began to paint around 1930, taking the decision to embrace the medium fully after a visit to Pembrokeshire in 1935. Along with Moore and John Piper, he would become one of Britain’s foremost Official War Artists, a leading figure in the Neo-Romantic movement, and sometime mentor to Francis Bacon when the latter began his painting career after the war. His visits to the South of France began in 1947, and he would purchase a villa designed by Eileen Gray near Menton in 1955.

His training as a printmaker might have influenced his devotion to close observation of nature. The effect of the isolation of Britain in wartime on the Neo-Romantics’ exploration of the landscape heightened his already-founded engagement with that of west Wales. After the war, this would give rise to grandiose paintings of natural forms, and of nature’s abundance of animals, birds and insects, which would also be mirrored in his lithographic oeuvre, most notably in the suites ‘A Bestiary’ (1968), ‘Bees’ (1977), and also in the etching and aquatint suite ‘Le Bestiaire ou Cortège d’Orphée’ (1979).

In 1944 Walter Hussey, the vicar of St Matthews, Northampton, commissioned Sutherland to paint a large crucifixion, alongside his commission to Moore for a Family Group. Sutherland’s most important commission was to be the 75 ft. high tapestry of Christ in Glory for Basil Spence’s new cathedral in Coventry. After his first retrospective at the I.C.A. in London in 1951, in 1952 he shared the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale with Edward Wadsworth and the new generation of post-war British sculptors. Further retrospectives followed at the Kunsthalle Basel (1966), the National Portrait Gallery (1977, portraits), the Musée Picasso, Antibes (1998) and the Dulwich Picture Gallery (2005).

 

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Born in London, Sutherland (1903-1980) studied engraving and etching at Goldsmiths College 1920-25, at a time of great interest in these print techniques, and in the oeuvres of essentially British printmakers such as William Blake, Samuel Palmer and J.M.W.Turner – an enthusiasm shared with his contemporaries Henry Moore and Paul Nash. Sutherland only began to paint around 1930, taking the decision to embrace the medium fully after a visit to Pembrokeshire in 1935. Along with Moore and John Piper, he would become one of Britain’s foremost Official War Artists, a leading figure in the Neo-Romantic movement, and sometime mentor to Francis Bacon when the latter began his painting career after the war. His visits to the South of France began in 1947, and he would purchase a villa designed by Eileen Gray near Menton in 1955.

His training as a printmaker might have influenced his devotion to close observation of nature. The effect of the isolation of Britain in wartime on the Neo-Romantics’ exploration of the landscape heightened his already-founded engagement with that of west Wales. After the war, this would give rise to grandiose paintings of natural forms, and of nature’s abundance of animals, birds and insects, which would also be mirrored in his lithographic oeuvre, most notably in the suites ‘A Bestiary’ (1968), ‘Bees’ (1977), and also in the etching and aquatint suite ‘Le Bestiaire ou Cortège d’Orphée’ (1979).

In 1944 Walter Hussey, the vicar of St Matthews, Northampton, commissioned Sutherland to paint a large crucifixion, alongside his commission to Moore for a Family Group. Sutherland’s most important commission was to be the 75 ft. high tapestry of Christ in Glory for Basil Spence’s new cathedral in Coventry. After his first retrospective at the I.C.A. in London in 1951, in 1952 he shared the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale with Edward Wadsworth and the new generation of post-war British sculptors. Further retrospectives followed at the Kunsthalle Basel (1966), the National Portrait Gallery (1977, portraits), the Musée Picasso, Antibes (1998) and the Dulwich Picture Gallery (2005).

 

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