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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 25 February, 2003, 10:21 GMT
Exhibition celebrates artist Sutherland
Portrait of Sir Winston Churchill, oil on canvas, 1954 [c] Estate of Graham Sutherland
Churchill's wife destroyed Sutherland's portrait of her husband
An exhibition to mark the centenary of the birth of British artist Graham Sutherland is opening in London on 25 February.

The painter Graham Sutherland built up an eclectic repertoire during his long career, with works including depictions of war and natural disaster, as well as searing portraits and landscapes.

He peaked on the British art scene during the post-World War II years, but recently hit headlines again with an infamous portrait of Sir Winston Churchill which had not been seen for 20 years.

The painting is a study, or preliminary work, of the original lost masterpiece destroyed by Churchill's wife Clementine because the couple hated it.

Forest With Chains [1973] [c] Estate of Graham Sutherland
Forest With Chains [1973] reflects his fascination with landscape
Now the public will be able to decide for themselves what they think of the study, when it becomes part of the largest collection of Sutherland's works on display in the UK.

An exhibition spokeswoman promised the show would contain "powerful and persuasive major works".

Among the 100 paintings - mostly from private collections - will be many not previously seen in public.

Sutherland, who died in 1980, is also famed for works including a portrait of writer Somerset Maugham and a huge tapestry commissioned for Coventry Cathedral, Christ in Glory in the Tetramorph.

The tapestry and studies of it will feature at the exhibition, as well as portraits of Edward Sackville-West, Mark Longman, Helena Rubinstein, Lord Goodman, Lord Plunket and the Earl of Airlie.

Crucifixion [1946] [c] Estate of Graham Sutherland
His religious works include Crucifixion [1946]
Another major religious work on show is Crucifixion, from St Matthew's Church, Northampton.

And Sutherland's well-known series of Pembrokeshire landscapes dating from the 1930s to 70s will also be on display.

The artist embarked on a love affair with the Welsh coastal area after visiting it in 1935, when he became captivated by its light and environment.

Sutherland also worked as a war artist as well as spending time in the south of France after 1945, and both eras of his life are reflected in the exhibition.

His Churchill portrait from 1954 is regarded by some critics as one of the finest surviving paintings of Britain's wartime leader.

Helena Rubenstein [c] Estate of Graham Sutherland
Sutherland painted cosmetics mogul Helena Rubenstein in 1957
Sutherland had been commissioned by parliament to paint a portrait to mark Churchill's 80th birthday.

It was to be kept for the politician's lifetime, then hung at Westminster - but Lady Churchill said she decided to have it destroyed after her husband said it had preyed on his mind.

Sutherland later described the destruction as "an act of vandalism".

Still surviving are a number of detailed drawings for Churchill's eyes, nose, mouth and hands, 12 pencil or charcoal studies, and several works in oil.

The one on display is said to be equal in stature to that Lady Churchill had destroyed.

Among Sutherland's admirers were his contemporaries, the artists Francis Bacon - famed for his angst-ridden paintings, and sculptor Henry Moore.

His works are still collected across Europe.

The Graham Sutherland exhibition is taking place at the Olympia fine art and antiques fair in London from 25 February - 2 March.





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SEE ALSO:
War leader's portrait goes on show
05 Feb 03 |  Politics


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