Eric Ravilious

Midnight Sun


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On loan

Hastings Contemporary (Hastings, UK): Seafaring

Eric Ravilious 1903–1942
Watercolour and graphite on paper
Support: 470 × 591 mm
Presented by the War Artists Advisory Committee 1946

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Ravilious studied at the Royal College of Art, where he was taught by Paul Nash and became close friends with Edward Bawden. He went on to produce designs for Wedgwood and Stuart Crystal and advertisements for London Transport.

Ravilious was attached to the Admiralty with the honorary rank of Captain, Royal Marines from February 1940. Submarines in Dry Dock was probably painted at Chatham or Sheerness where he spent much of the first two months of his service as a war artist. Midnight Sun was painted shortly after, on a trip to Norway in a destroyer.  

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

N05723 MIDNIGHT SUN 1940

Inscr. ‘Eric Ravilious June 1940’ b.l.
Watercolour, 18 1/2×23 1/4 (47×59).
Presented by the War Artists' Advisory Committee 1946.
Exh: National War Pictures, National Gallery, 1940, and provincial tour, 1941 (no catalogue); National War Pictures, R.A., October–November 1945 (589), and Glasgow, 1945; Eastbourne and Brighton, 1948 (37); Sheffield, February–March 1958 (14).
Repr: V. & A., Twentieth Century British Water-Colours, 1958, pl.37.

This picture was painted in June 1940 on the second of two trips in a destroyer which Ravilious made to Norway. The Imperial War Museum possesses a watercolour ‘H.M.S. Glorious in the Arctic’ and two watercolours entitled ‘H.M.S. Ark Royal in action’. The Ark Royal watercolours are each dated 9 June 1940. It is not clear which aircraft-carrier is shown in ‘Midnight Sun’, but it is a reasonable assumption that it is either H.M.S. Glorius or H.M.S. Ark Royal; the date makes the latter more likely.

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, II


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