Graham Sutherland, considered by many the outstanding British painter of his generation, died here Sunday night. He was 76.

A spokesman at the Royal Free Hospital said Mr. Sutherland died "from natural causes."

Born in London in August 1903, Mr. Sutherland was the son of a civil servant. His parents urged him to be an engineer, but after a year's apprenticeship he quit and began studying art.

In the early 1930s he switched from his early specialty of etching to painting and was influenced by the works of Samuel Palmer, Picasso and the Surrealists.

He painted angry, twisted, almost tortured landscapes and his colors were a skillful blend of the somber and the bright.

During World War II, Mr. Sutherland became an official war artist, often concentrating on scenes of bomb devastation. His most famous work is probably the 64-by-36-foot tapestry depicting Christ, hung in Coventry Cathedral.

He once painted a portrait of Winston Churchill that critics called "a triumph," but Churchill was less taken with the work, banning it from public exhibition after its first newspaper reproductions were published.

"It makes me look half-witted, which I ain't," Churchill said of the portrait.

The controversy ended in 1978 when Churchill's family disclosed that his widow had destroyed the portrait. Mr. Sutherland called the destruction of the portrait, one of only 30 he painted in 30 years, "an act of vandalism unequalled in the history of art."

"I painted what I saw," Mr. Sutherland said. "I don't paint pretty pictures just to win applause."

Queen Elizabeth II named him a companion of honor in 1968 for his work.

The artist had been living in Menton, on the French Riviera, for a number of years. He was married in 1928 and had one son who died in infancy.