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The worst of the London Blitz was centred on the East End, and this painting shows a street in the Silvertown area, close to the docks. The area was devastated and Sutherland found it ‘tremendously moving... mysterious and sad’. Though the houses were mostly abandoned, a few people continued to shelter in the wreckage during a period of social unrest. However, figures do not appear in these paintings, the massive loss of life and abiding pathos being suggested by the stillness of the scene and its melancholy colouring.

May 2007