Godfrey Winn, London, until December 1971
Waddington Galleries, London
Private Collection, UK
London, Hanover Gallery, Graham Sutherland, June 1948, cat no.4
Douglas Cooper, The Work of Graham Sutherland, Lund Humphries, London, 1961, cat no.89A, illus b/w
Sutherland made his first visit to the South of France in 1947, returning for prolonged periods each year until, in 1955, the purchase of the house at Menton which was to become his principal home.
The exposure to this vibrant region released a much brighter palette into his work, along with a specifically Mediterranean range of subject matter, such as vines, palms, cicadas and gourds. The spiky and anthropomorphic shapes of the palm trees particularly caught his attention, perhaps linking back to the thorn trees he had previously been painting, and there are a number of paintings and studies that use this theme. Thus the present work can be seen to date from a point in his oeuvre where the artist was drawing together the anthropomorphic and organic themes of his earlier work with the liberating colours of southern Europe.
The dramatic change in palette in Sutherland's work at this time has also recently been investigated by commentators in the light of the artist's close friendship with the young Francis Bacon. Senior in both years and reputation, Sutherland's work nevertheless shows close links with that of Bacon, and the changing colours of his work, with strong reds, blues, oranges and pinks coming to the fore definitely either echo or have echoes in the contemporary paintings of Bacon. The large Crucifiction, 1946 for St Matthew's Church, Northampton has frequently been compared with Bacon's iconic Painting of the same year (Coll.MOMA, New York), and in the Palm Palisade and Vine paintings of 1947-48, we can see the vegetation becoming ever more threatening and powerful, something that is also clear in Bacon's paitnings of the same period.