Graham Sutherland (1903-1980)
Signed with initials and dated 57; inscribed with title on the stretcher, also signed with initials and inscribed "to Douglas with love G.S. 57" on the reverse.
Oil on canvas
Provenance: Waddington Galleries, Private Collection, Sotheby's 11 December 2006 lot 76.
In the late 1940s Sutherland took to holidaying in the Corniche - the South of France near the Italian border. Britain in the 1940s was a joyless place, the winters hard and the food scant; the south of France was a complete contrast. Sutherland replaced the cold, poisonous yellows, greens and reds of his Pembrokeshire palette with the warm colours of Provence with as much enthusiasm as he embraced the palate of Mediterranean cooking. In 1955 he and his wife purchased a 1934 modernist home with views of the sea that had been designed by Eileen Gray in the spirit of Le Courbusier. Its 36 acres of gardens they planted as a jungle with avocados, olives and mangoes and the extraordinary datura. Poisonous, a member of the Solanaceae (nightshade) family, datura flowers are white and volumnious. Yet more mysteriously it is a vespertine - opening its flowers only in the evening. Sutherland may well have been living in an earthly paradise, but the deadly and mysterious datura intrigued him and became a regular subject.
Pallant House has another of Sutherland's 1957 Datura paintings - which came from the collection of Walter Hussey, Dean of Chichester Cathedral and famous patron of artists of the period.