Artist biography

English painter, wood-engraver and designer. He was educated at Eastbourne School of Art and then at the Royal College of Art (1922–5), where he was taught by Paul Nash and became close friends with Edward Bawden. His early works included the refectory mural (destr. 1940) in Morley College, London, and wood-engravings in the tradition of Bewick for the Golden Cockerel, Curwen and Nonesuch presses. In the 1930s he began painting larger compositions in a wider range of colour, and this led him to use lithography. Ravilious also produced designs for Wedgwood, including the celebration mug (1936) for the coronation of King Edward VIII, which was withdrawn and revised for the coronations of George VI and Elizabeth II; the Alphabet mug (1937); the Afternoon Tea (1937), Travel (1938) and Garden Implements (1939) china sets; and the Boat Race Day cup (1938). He also designed glass for Stuart Crystal (1934), furniture for Dunbar Hay (1936) and graphic work for advertisements for London Transport and others. Despite his success as a designer, Ravilious concentrated increasingly on watercolours. His landscapes and rural interiors often featured the downland and coast of southern England; haunting and lyrical, these works show a world in suspense and often feature chalk hill figures, and empty rooms (e.g. Farmhouse Bedroom, 1939; London, V&A). In 1939 he became a War Artist, and during World War II he depicted such subjects as De-iceing Aircraft (c. 1942; London, Imp. War Mus.). He died while observing a sea rescue mission.

J. M. Richards: The Wood Engravings of Eric Ravilious (London, 1972)
F. Constable: The England of Eric Ravilious (London, 1982)
H. Binyon: Eric Ravilious: Memoir of an Artist (London, 1983)
R. Dalrymple: Ravilious and Wedgwood (London, 1986)
Eric Ravilious, 1903–42: A Re-assessment of his Life and Work (exh. cat. by P. Andrew, Eastbourne, Towner A.G. & Local Hist. Mus., 1986)
R. Garton, ed.: For Shop Use Only: Eric Ravilious (Devizes, 1993)


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