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Eric Ravilious

Eric Ravilious (1903-1942) was a British painter, designer, book illustrator and wood engraver.

25/04/2024     Blog

One of my favourite periods is the 1920/30’s famous of course for Art Deco styling of bold geometric designs and bright colours.

Art Deco which is short for Arts Decoratifs first appeared in France in the 1910’s just before the First World War and flourished throughout the 1920-30’s. This modernist design influenced architecture such as The Empire State Building, The Hoover Building and one of my most loved hotels The Midland in Morecambe which is famous for its sculptures by Eric Gill and murals by Eric Ravilious who is my favourite artist!

I was very excited this week when we were consigned a collection of wonderful Eric Ravilious books and ceramics for our next Fine Art sale to be held on 14th June. So I thought I would tell you about Eric Ravilious.

Eric Ravilious (1903-1942) was a British painter, designer, book illustrator and wood engraver. He was born in Acton but grew up in Eastbourne, Sussex an area he particularly loved to paint. His parents ran an antique shop during this period. Eric won a scholarship to study at the Design School of the Royal College of Art and was taught by the great painter Paul Nash. Here he met Edward Bawden who Eric collaborated with later in his career.

Nash was well known for wood engraving and encouraged Eric to learn and was so impressed he proposed him for membership of the Society of Wood Engravers in 1925 and helped him acquire his first commissions.

Eric Ravilious went on to design ceramics for Wedgwood in 1937. The first piece was a Coronation mug for George VI, quickly followed by an alphabet design, gardening scenes, travel and a large centrepiece bowl depicting scenes of the Oxford and Cambridge boat races. All of which are represented in the collection we are privileged to be selling. Production of Wedgwood Ravilious designs continued into the 1950’s when he designed a mug to commemorate the coronation of Elizabeth II. Later in the 1980’s some of the designs were reissued by Wedgwood as limited editions this time in porcelain rather than pottery.

In 1938 Country Life published the book “High Street” by the author J.M. Richards. Ravilious produced lithographs documenting Victorian High Street shops such as a Fireworks shop, Saddlers and Harness Makers shops. I copy of this book is also included in a sale and carries a presale estimate of £700-1000.

Ravilious engraved more than 400 illustrations and drew over 40 lithographic designs for books and publications during his lifetime.

In 1940 Eric Ravilious was appointed Official War artist. His watercolours at this time feature life as submariner patrolling the channel, setting up coastal defences, spitfires on missions, warship in docks etc. Many of these pictures are now displayed at the Imperial War Museum.

In 1942 aged 39 he was posted to Iceland and participated in an air/ sea rescue on board a Hudson plane searching for a missing aircraft. Unfortunately, his plane along with four others never returned from this mission and all the men were declared dead.

So if you are interested in the beautiful designs of Eric Ravilious do come down and take a look at our collection which is coming up for sale on 14th June.