Graham Sutherland Composition with thorn tree Thirty six ceramic tiles, 1959 printed with black tran
Lot 79
Graham Sutherland O.M. (British, 1903-1980)Composition with a thorn tree 46 x 185 cm. (18 1/8 x 72 3/4 in.) (table)
Sold for £2,880 (US$ 4,662) inc. premium

Lot Details
Graham Sutherland O.M. (British, 1903-1980)
Composition with a thorn tree
signed with initials and dated '7.2.59' (lower right), as part of the transfer
Thirty six unglazed ceramic tiles, printed with black transfer and hand finished
46 x 185 cm. (18 1/8 x 72 3/4 in.)
(table)

Footnotes

  • "I started to notice thorn bushes, and the structure of thorns as they pierced the air. I made some drawings, and as I made them, a curious change developed. As the thorns rearranged themselves, they became whilst still retaining their own pricking space encompassing life, something else - a kind of stand-in for a Crucifixion and a crucified head."

    To Graham Sutherland, the thorn tree came to symbolise the Crucifixion itself with its twisted branches mirroring the writhing body of the dying Christ, his fingers and toes curling up in agony. These gnarled, organic forms first began to emerge in Graham Sutherland's work as an official war artist.

    For centuries, artists have struggled to express the spiritual significance of the Crucifixion sacrifice entirely through symbolism, the most striking example of which is Zurbaran's Lamb of God in which he abandons the cross, instead painting a humble lamb bound upon a table. Graham Sutherland carries this symbolism to a new level, using the humble and unrefined thorn tree as a means of describing the enormity of Christ's sacrifice.
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