16 January 2022

Churchill assassinated by fire



I saw these two paintings a few years ago in Sydney at the NSW Gallery and snapped some hasty photos with an old i-phone. I am ashamed of the poor quality because in fact my photos taken in museums are usually well made and measured. The top one above is by the Welsh painter, Augustus John (1878 - 1961). I do not believe he came to Australia so I am not sure how his pictures ended up here. I liked this painting immediately because of its spontaneity and almost sloppy execution which can reveal in this case a real artistic intuition though it isn't the rule by any means. It's called Welsh Mountains appropriately enough, and was painted in 1911.

This one below was painted by Graham Sutherland (1903 -1980) and (surprise), was also titled Welsh Mountains. It was done between 1937 - 38 so the panel told me. What I find interesting is that just roughly 27 years separates the two pictures and yet what a great difference in evolution. The John painting evokes an Impressionist sensibility while this one below represents the Surrealist movement sweeping through France and Britain between the two wars. This Sutherland,( below, is pretty wild and it begs the questions to me whether or not he painted outdoors or in the studio. I imagine it was done in his studio but this is just a guess. After asking "Grandpa" as I have  come  to affectionately call Google) I realise that he probably did it, as well as many others in his studio, from watercolour sketches done on site. 

He was also portrait painter in the somewhat realist manner, which are very different from this landscape. And he was indeed commissioned to paint Churchill's portrait by the Parliament at the time, and was subsequently presented to him on his 80th birthday. Alas, he and his wife hated it so much that they destroyed 26 years later. Rumour has it that it ended up in the fireplace. But anyway, that's the way it sometimes goes in life, always up in smoke.


and the now assassinated portrait 

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