Graham Sutherland OM
Black Landscape 1939–40

Artwork details

Black Landscape
Date 1939–40
Medium Oil paint and sand on canvas
Dimensions Support: 810 x 1321 mm
frame: 1006 x 1506 x 76 mm
Acquisition Purchased 1980
Not on display

Display caption

This Welsh scene reflects the artist's anxiety at the threat of war; it was painted during the ‘phoney war’ between 1939 and 1940. Both the title and the ominous twilight effect suggest imminent violence. Later the artist would transform objects found in nature, such as tree roots and branches, into human-like presences. Here it is the stark rocky landscape that rises up as a dark, threatening presence.

Sutherland was influenced by the pastoral vision of William Blake and Samuel Palmer (shown in room 8). This painting echoes the breadth of vision Blake showed in times of war, transcending narrowly nationalistic concerns.

September 2004