This new acquisition for the Winchcombe Archive Collection has caused much discussion amongst my Romantic and Pastoral art expert friends. Acquired earlier this year from a provincial auction room where it was comparatively unheralded, this painterly small scale grisaille study is signed in black ink G.S. 1928.

The subject is of oast houses in wooded countryside and depicts a scene with a mackerel sky and setting sun. It has a Palmeresque quality of luminescence and is of a similar size to Sutherland’s finished etchings of the 1920s. Whilst the 1930s were to see Sutherland veer towards abstraction in his depiction of nature, in 1928 he was still producing relatively conventional works such as the Meadow Chapel and Michaelmas.

It is also known that Graham visited the area around Shoreham in Kent beloved of Palmer and his circle of The Ancients, and rented a property in the area in the 1920s and 1930s. For some unknown reason, Sutherland subsequently decided to destroy much of the preparatory studies behind his published prints, so such works are very scarce, so available comparisons are few and far between.

However, we do know that the turn of the decade saw Sutherland undertake a number of etchings of wooded landscapes. It is therefore logical that he would make studies from nature of suitable subject matter as preparation for such works. This study is most certainly in that English romantic tradition epitomised by Palmer, who was a pivotal figure and influence on the Neo Pastoralists who studied at Goldsmiths College in the 1920s.

graham sutherland oast houses