Thistles and Sun
© Estate of Graham Sutherland

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Thistles and Sun 1945
After working as a War Artist during the Second World War, Sutherland returned to painting landscapes and natural motifs. In his paintings of 1945-6, there is a noticeable brightening of the palette, moving away from the use of dark and heavy colours and sharp contrasts in tone. In this work, Sutherland has concentrated on a group of thistle branches, stylizing the shapes of the thorns. It was made in the same year that the artist began his series of ‘Thorn Head’ paintings, which relate to themes of human suffering and cruelty. However the inclusion of the sun and use of oranges and yellows make this work more positive in tone.

Glossary Open


A distinctive element in a work of art or design.


A hand-held board on which a painter lays out and mixes the colours he or she is using. By extension it is used to describe the range of colours employed by an artist.


To represent something in accordance with artistic convention rather than its actual appearance.

Motif, Palette , Stylization


  • Acc. No. GMA 763
  • Medium Gouache, black and coloured crayon on paper
  • Size 45.00 x 40.40 cm
  • Credit Presented by Mr and Mrs J.H. Macdonell 1960