Graham Sutherland, O.M. (1903-1980)
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Graham Sutherland, O.M. (1903-1980)

Forest with Chains

Graham Sutherland, O.M. (1903-1980)
Forest with Chains
signed with initials and dated 'G.S. 1971-1972' (lower right), inscribed and dated again 'The Chains/1970' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
44½ x 66½ in. (113 x 169 cm.)
with Marlborough Fine Art, London, where purchased by the present owner's parents.
Exhibition catalogue, Graham Sutherland Recent Work, Zurich, Marlborough Galerie, 1972, no. 7, illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, Graham Sutherland Recent Work, London, Marlborough Fine Art, 1972, no. 7, illustrated.
F. Arcangeli, Graham Sutherland, Milan, 1973, no. 194, illustrated. Exhibition catalogue, British Painting 1952-1977, London, Royal Academy, 1977, p. 114, no. 345, illustrated.
R. Berthoud, Graham Sutherland A Biography, London, 1982, p. 282, pl. 83.
Zurich, Marlborough Galerie, Graham Sutherland Recent Work, October - November 1972, no. 7.
London, Christie's, Fanfare for Europe, The British Art Market (An Exhibition sponsored by The British Antique Dealers' Association, Christie, Manson and Woods, The Society of London Art Dealers, Sotheby and Co.), January 1973, no. 80.
London, Marlborough Fine Art, Graham Sutherland Recent Work, March - April 1973, no. 7.
London, Royal Academy, British Painting 1952-1977, September - November 1977, no. 345.
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Philip Harley

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Lot Essay

Sutherland returned to Pembrokeshire in 1967 after an absence of over twenty years to record a television programme. He was fascinated by the distinctive landscape of the area, returning in 1968 for a longer visit. From this period until the end of his life, the motifs taken from the small Pembrokeshire estuaries where he spent several weeks each summer at Sandy Haven and the private beach near Picton Castle (where the Graham Sutherland Gallery opened in 1976) dominated his work.

The present work was based on a pile of chains which Sutherland found on the shore of the Cleddau estuary in Pembrokeshire at Benton Castle, where he was also a frequent visitor at the home of his friends, Jack and Betty Sullivan. The castle had a wood of oak trees whose boughs hung over the water's edge and whose gnarled roots were exposed as they struggled to survive. Sutherland found a pile of discarded chains formerly used to moor boats to the banks of the estuary, and they were a rich source of inspiration to him during his visits to Benton Castle (see R. Bertould, loc. cit.).

Sutherland wrote in a note accompanying a watercolour version of this subject in the Sutherland Gallery at Picton, (see Graham Sutherland, London, Tate Gallery, 1982, pp. 159-160), 'The site is the Private Beach at the foot of Benton Castle. The beach is thickly fringed with oak trees on a steep incline from the River Cleddau. It should be remembered that I do not consider myself a landscape or scenic painter. Objects are taken out of their context and often a 'found object' in one place is used in another. But here the chains and the setting were on the same beach - but apart. I was interested in this heap of rusting half disintegrating chains, and the convolutions and varied colours set against the rising oaks. There was total silence. The chains, greatly enlarged, I drew and redrew trying to make the mass at once full of variety, yet compact. I studied the tree first and later seeing the chains decided to combine the two in one work'.

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