This set of nine drawings by the celebrated British artist Graham Sutherland shows scenes of bombed-out buildings and detritus in the City and East End of London during the Second World War.

Sutherland trained as an artist and printmaker at Goldsmiths’ College between 1920 and 1925 and was appointed an official war artist in 1941. He began drawing the wreckage of large commercial buildings in the City in 1940. Three of the drawings in this set show a fallen lift shaft; another shows twisted girders. ‘The way it had fallen it was like a wounded animal,’ wrote Sutherland of this bombed building. ‘And there was always the terrible smell of burning.’ In 1941 Sutherland moved further east to record the damage around the London docks. These drawings include pictures of a bombed paper mill, including studies of rolls of burnt paper. ‘It is all tremendously moving – not grand, like the City, but mysterious and sad – but strangely self-contained,’ he wrote of his East End work. Sutherland made on-the-spot sketches and then worked them up in his studio as preparatory drawings for finished paintings. These nine studies are believed to be from the 300 preparatory drawings he made from the seven sketchbooks he kept during this wartime project.


Artist's studio; Bergamini Gallery, Milan; private collection

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