Graham Sutherland was already an established artist at the forefront of the Neo-Romantic movement when the Second World War began. He demonstrated a similarity of ethos with the likes of Paul Nash, Henry Moore and John Piper. Like many contemporaries, Sutherland found the onset of war initially detrimental to his artistic career. But as a prominent artist and friend of Kenneth Clark, the Chairman of the War Artists Advisory Committee, he was soon employed as a war artist. His style and interests were well suited to the blitzed scenes that became commonplace. This painting captures an area of London just north of St Paul’s Cathedral. A liftshaft is the only thing left of a formerly tall building, Sutherland himself writing that in its lateral fall it ‘suggested a wounded tiger in a painting by Delacroix’. The gloom, only illuminated by a fiery orange, depicts a city marred by dust, rubble and fire.


  • Title: The City : A fallen lift shaft
  • Creator: Sutherland, Graham (OM)
  • Creator Lifespan: 1903 - 1980
  • Date Created: 1941
  • Location: City of London, London, England, UK
  • Physical Dimensions: w1130 x h675 mm (unframed)
  • Provenance: © IWM (Art.IWM ART LD 893)
  • Type: painting
  • External Link: Imperial War Museum website
  • Medium: gouache

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