Graham Sutherland OM

Clegyr Boia


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Graham Sutherland OM 1903–1980
Etching and aquatint on paper
Image: 124 × 188 mm
support: 168 × 227 mm
Presented by the artist 1970

Display caption

This print is shows Clegyr Boia, the rocky outcrop west of St David's, Pembrokeshire, Wales. Sutherland visited the area each summer from 1934 to 1939. His pensive and atmospheric Welsh landscapes came to be seen as premonitions of war, expressive of the prevailing mood of anxiety and menace. Many critics identified him as a descendant of Blake; Graham Bell, for example, wrote:

Sutherland is the phoenix Blake, the burning mystic making a black sun in a brazen world... Sutherland has called up most powerfully a poetic apprehension of our time.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

Graham Sutherland OM 1903-1980

P02068 Clegyr Boia 1938

Inscribed ‘Herons’ b.l.
Etching and aquatint, 7¾ x 5¿ (19.7 x 15) on paper 9¿ x 7¼ (24.5 x 18.5). Presented by the artist 1970.
Lit: Douglas Cooper, The Work of Graham Sutherland, 1961, p. 69, repr. pl.4a as ‘Welsh Landscape’ and incorrectly dated 1936; Felix H. Man, Graham Sutherland: das graphische Werk 1922–1970, 1970, No. 37, repr. as ‘Clegyr-Boia, a landscape in Wales’.

This etching was the frontispiece to Signature, No.9, published in March 1938. Signature was a magazine devoted to typography and the graphic arts, edited by Oliver Simon and published by the Curwen Press; an article by Sutherland on ‘A Trend in English Draughtsmanship’ appeared in the third issue in July 1936.

According to Felix Man, there was only a single state of this etching, which was printed in an edition of about 1000, plus a few artist’s proofs; the plate was subsequently destroyed. The subject reflects Sutherland’s new interest in the landscape of Wales. Both subject and treatment are similar to some of his watercolours and oils of the same period, such as ‘Black Landscape’ 1937 (Cooper, pl. IOC) or ‘sun setting between Hills’ 1938 (Cooper, pl. 14a). Sutherland writes (letter of 18 August 1972) that ‘the word “Herons” half obliterated at the bottom centre was intended to be the title “Herons Ghyl” which I later abandoned’.

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1970–1972, London 1972.


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