GRAHAM SUTHERLAND (1903-1982)
MODERN BRITISH (20th Century )
Pembrokeshire Landscape - Valley above Porthclais (Wales, 1935)
Black ink, chalk, crayon and watercolour on buff paper
Signed; signed, inscribed Pembrokeshire Landscape and inscribed To Bill Brain with best wishes. G.S. on the reverse
Douglas Cooper, The Work of Graham Sutherland, Lund Humphries & Co. Ltd, London 1961, the sketch illustrated plate 6a
John Hayes, The Art of Graham Sutherland, Phaidon Press Ltd, Oxford 1980, page 55, the sketch illustrated page 54, plate 8
Roger Berthoud, Graham Sutherland -A Biography, Faber and Faber, London 1982, page 71
Ronald Alley, Graham Sutherland, The Tate Gallery catalogue, London 1982, page 71, the sketch illustrated catalogue number 40
Angus Stuart, Olympia Fine Art and Antiques Fair Spring Catalogue, illustrated page 21
Chichester, The Tudor Room, The Bishop's Palace, Distant Prospects and Familiar Shores, Festival Exhibition, June-July 1996
London, Graham Sutherland, an exhibition on loan at Olympia, 25 February - 2 March 2003
London, Dulwich Picture Gallery, Graham Sutherland, 15 June - 25 September 2005, touring to:
Nottingham, Djanogly Art Gallery, Graham Sutherland, 8 October - 11 December 2005
Aldeburgh Festival Exhibition, Peter Pears Gallery, 9 -24 June 2006, catalogue number 9
Description / Expertise
As formerly one of the leading members of the group of etchers at Goldsmith’s College, who rediscovered Samuel Palmer’s poetic vision, Graham Sutherland’s paintings during his first visit to Pembrokeshire in 1934 are astounding. The harsh, bleak beauty of the Welsh landscape, with its steep valleys and dramatic chasing clouds, seized his imagination, calling him to return every summer until the outbreak of war. His visionary drawings and paintings of Pembrokeshire, of which Valley above Porthclais is a powerful example, became an important influence on the neo-romantic artists of the 1940’s.
Both John Hayes and Ronald Alley have discussed Valley above Porthclais in their monographs of the artist:
Valley above Porthclais (on the outskirts of St David’s: the site is marked on Sutherland's map of the region) well illustrates Sutherland's remark about the Pembrokeshire landscape that ‘the astonishing fertility of (the) valleys and complexity of the roads running through them is a delight to the eye.’ The descriptive line in these early sketches is like a ‘tough thread of black cotton’ (Edward Sackville-West).
The left side is a study made on the Gribin at Solva; the right side is one made from the entrance to Porthclais, looking northwest. Sutherland was particularly fond of the drawing on the right, a brilliant compact design in which the roads curl like ribbons through the landscape, and the whole scene seems to be organically alive. Not only did it serve as starting point for he picture 'Welsh Landscape with Roads', painted in 1936, but he returned to it, with its Y-shaped junction of roads, a number of times in the last years of his life.
As with Beddington, Graham was probably introduced to Pick by Milner Gray, who was certainly responsible for Graham's next major venture in the design field. Gray had been very much concerned with the founding of the Society of Industrial Artists and Designers, on the Council of which Graham also served. In 1933 they had started a branch in north Staffordshire. Gray had got to know T.A.Fennemore, an advertising man who a year earlier had become marketing director at E. Brain and Co., makers of Foley china at Stoke-on-Trent. Fennemore, Milner Gray and Graham thought it would be a good idea, Gray recalled, to launch an experiment to improve the standards of certain commercial products; bone china and earthenware would be the first targets. They drew up a list of fairly 'modern' artist who should be asked to execute designs, including Paul Nash, Nicholson, Hepworth, Albert Rutherston, Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant.