Private Collection, Europe
London, Imperial War Museum, The War Drawings, 12 May - 14 July 1982, cat. no.86
Roberto Tassi, Sutherland, The Wartime Drawings, Sotheby Parke Bernet, London, 1980, cat no.86, illus b/w p98
After making a number of smaller drawings on this theme, Sutherland made Tin Mine Emerging Miner, 1942. This large work on paper, 46 by 28 3/4 inches, is in the collection of Leeds City Art Gallery.
On 1st January 1941, Graham Sutherland became an Official War Artist, a position offered to him by Sir Kenneth Clark, Director of the National Gallery and Chairman of the War Artist Advisory Committee. Sutherland traveled extensively around the coast, to Swansea, to the East End of London and to the suburbs. In June 1942 Sutherland headed for Cornwall and his next assignment: the depiction of the 'Underground Army' at work in Pendeen, working mostly in the Geevor Mine. 'The tin mines are stupendous to a degree I wouldn't have believed possible' he was to write to Kenneth Clark and his wife in a letter showing himself as a diminutive creature dangling 1200 feet below the surface, 'a world of such beauty and such mystery that I shall never forget it'.
Far from being put off by what could easily be perceived as depressing surroundings, Sutherland was to find within himself a new empathy towards a human being's labour and struggle. 'One would come across a miner sitting in a niche in a wall, like a statue, immobile...The walls dripped with water and the only light was from the acetylene lamps fixed to each man's helmet...The deeper significance of these men only gradually became clear to me. It was as if they were a kind of different species - ennobled underground, with an added stature which above ground they lacked' (Daily Telegraph Magazine, 1971).
In these depictions and the images which they summon, one is reminded of other words and images of Dante's underworld Inferno and William Blake's illustrations for it, both of which Sutherland had seen and read.
Guillaume Gallozzi Gallery exhibition catalogue, 1993.