Monday, June 14, 2010

Picture of the Week No.25 - Eric Ravilious

Now the Stanley Lewis exhibition is all up and running I'm starting to think about my free lunchtime lecture at Bedford Gallery on July 7th. 'An Extraordinary Outbreak of Talent - The Royal College of Art in the 1920s' will look at the talented individuals at the college alongside Lewis and the atmosphere in the English art scene that the RCA was part of, including, of course the dominance of the 'Slade ethos' and emphasis on drawing skills. The title of the lecture comes from Paul Nash's description of Edward Bawden and Eric Ravillious who, like Lewis, came to the RCA on provincial scholarships in the 1920s. Which gives me the perfect excuse to bring out Observers Post for this weeks picture of the week. The thing that really marks out Rav's beautiful watercolours is his effortless build up of colour and tone with thinly applied dryish brush strokes. The marks are clear and visible, objects and scenes are rendered in a crispness that fills the scene with light and air and well observed details.

For more details on the programme of free lectures which start on 23rd June with Head of Collections, Tom Perret's introduction to the exhibiton click here. KP

ERIC RAVILIOUS (1903-1942)

Observer’s Post c.1939-40

Accession number: P.223

watercolour and graphite on paper, 43.4 ´ 58.4 cm
inscribed: Eric Ravilious

Ravilious studied at the Design School of the R.C.A 1922-5, meeting Edward
BAWDEN; whilst there he came under the influence of Paul NASH. He was a watercolourist
mainly of topographical subjects, many of which lack figures, giving them a
haunted look. He also worked as an engraver and designer, from 1937 designing china for Wedgwood.
He and Bawden painted murals for the Refreshment Room, Morley College, London,
1928 (destroyed in an air-raid, 1940). Bawden credited Ravilious for his 'skill
in organising space and in creating in it figures to be sent dancing and
swinging in ballet movement across the walls'.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, he joined the Royal Observer Corps, but in February 1940 he became an Official War Artist attached to the Royal Marines.

Ravillious died on active service in September 1942 when he tragically disappeared on a mission over Iceland. EJ

PROVENANCE: Leicester Galleries; Miss Raymond; Redfern Gallery, from whom purchaed by Gallery, April 1958.

EXHIBITIONS: Contemporary British Artists, London, Leicester Galleries, 1941, no.3; Eric Ravilious, Sheffield, Graves Art Gallery, 1958, no.79.

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