I have selected this sketch by Graham Sutherland as my choice of item from our 1980 archive acquisitions. The sketch is a study for Sutherland’s etching, Pastoral (1930), a piece I find particularly interesting as it shows how this work might have looked as a painting and not a print. Graham Sutherland was educated at Goldsmiths College, and, after graduating, taught etching and printing at Chelsea School of Art. It was during his time at Chelsea that Sutherland discovered the works of Samuel Palmer, an artist who influenced much of his artwork of this period, including Pastoral (1930). Sutherland later embarked on a career as a painter after a visit to Pembrokeshire, Wales, sketches of which are included in a collection of sketchbooks housed in the archive, TGA 812. Roberto Tassi described Sutherland’s Pastoral (1930) as ‘the tragic landscape: a situation in which nature reveals her drama and her cruelty.’ At a time when the Surrealists were striving to achieve spectacular haunting images via the liberation of the subconscious but with the assistance of the intellect, Sutherland was able to create images which conveyed the same sense of mystery and dramatic suspense without ignoring visual reality or abandoning nature. TGA 8018/1, a study for Pastoral, is a gouche, ink, watercolour and charcoal sketch, forming part of a small yet diverse collection of items relating to Graham Sutherland. Included are printed material, typescripts and personal documentation relating to Sutherland. The archive also boasts collections of correspondence to and from Sutherland, TGA 864, TGA 926, and TAM 67, forty sketchbooks, TGA 812, and a series of typescripts and conversations between Sutherland and Andrew Révai, as well as designs for Christ in glory in the Tetramorph, TGA 8023. This sketch offers a unique insight into how Sutherland’s famous piece, Pastoral (1930), may have looked had it been produced as a painting as opposed to a print. Do you think that the change in technique used by the artist significantly alters the sense of drama inherent in Pastoral (1930)?
Written by Andrew Neilson