Eric Ravilious – Designs for London Transport’s Green Line

Eric Ravilious – Designs for London Transport’s Green Line

Beryl Maude Sinclair

Beryl Sinclair is one of those names that I love to find. Born in 1901, Beryl Bowker was the daughter of the Dr. G. E. Bowker, a Physician at the Bath Royal United Hospital. She lived with her mother and father in Combe Park, Bath. She studied at the Royal College of Art alongside Edward Bawden and Eric Ravilious.

She was both a painter in oils and watercolours, as well as a potter.

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 Eric Ravilious – Morley College Mural – Life in a Boarding House, 1929

At the RCA she was known as Bowk. Ravilious painted her twice that we know, once into the Colwyn Bay Pier Murals by Ravilious in the kitchen with a plant and then again in one of the ‘lost’ Ravilious oil paintings – ‘Bowk at the sink’, 1929-30.

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 Eric Ravilious – Newhaven Harbour, 1935

She married Robert Sinclair, a London author and journalist, who wrote the Country Book on East London in 1950. The painting above by Ravilious was bought from the Zwemmer Gallery by Beryl Sinclair.

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 Beryl Sinclair – Regents Park, The Horseguards

They were living at 170 Gloucester Place, London. It might explain why many of her early paintings are of Regents Park as it’s less than 200 metres away.

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 Beryl Sinclair – Regents Park, Sussex Place

In 1939 she was part of the Artists International Association – Everyman’s Print series contributing two prints, The Row and Riding Procession. The AIA Everyman Prints exhibition was opened on 30 January by Sir Kenneth Clark.

In the early 1940s she was the Chairman of the Artists International Association.

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Essentially set up as a radically left political organisation, the AIA embraced all styles of art both modernist and traditional, but the core committee preferenced realism. Its later aim was to promote the “Unity of Artists for Peace, Democracy and Cultural Development”. It held a series of large group exhibitions on political and social themes beginning in 1935 with an exhibition entitled Artists Against Fascism and War.

The AIA supported the left-wing Republican side in the Spanish Civil War through exhibitions and other fund-raising activities. The Association was also involved in the settling of artists displaced by the Nazi regime in Germany. Many of those linked with the Association, such as Duncan Grant were also pacifists. Another of the AIA’s aims was to promote wider access to art through travelling exhibitions and public mural paintings.

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 Beryl Sinclair – Regents Park, Sussex Place

In late 1940s she was the Chair of the Woman’s International Art Club. The Women’s International Art Club, briefly known as the Paris International Art Club, was founded in Paris in 1900. The club was intended to “promote contacts between women artists of all nations and to arrange exhibitions of their work”, it provided a way for women to exhibit their art work. The membership of the club was international, and there were sections in France, Greece, Holland, Italy and the United States.

During WW2 she was part of a touring exhibition of art:

John Aldridge, Michael Rothenstein, John Armstrong, Kenneth Rowntree, Beryl Sinclair, and Geoffrey Rhoades. The paintings are touring Essex. They have already been to Maldon, Colchester, and Braintree.

She then joined the Council of Imperial Arts League in 1952 becoming the chairman in 1958.

During the war she was commissioned by Sir Kenneth Clark to execute paintings for the Civil Service canteen. She also contributed to the Cambridge Pictures for Schools scheme. She exhibited at the Royal Academy, New English Art Club, the London Group, Womans International Art Club, Artists International Association and shows at Leicester Galleries. Her work is in the collection of the Arts Council, The British Government, The Council for the Encouragement of Music and Art, Buckinghamshire County Museum

When married she moved to White Cottage, Grimsdell’s Lane, Amsersham in Buckinghamshire. She died in 1967.

 Beryl Sinclair Studio Pottery Mark.

Chelmsford Chronicle: Friday 13 November 1942
Wikipedia AIA

The Tennis Match

This is just a short little post. It looks at a familiar theme I have found in the work of Eric Ravilious, repetition. But in this case it is because both works in this post were inspired by the same location.

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 Eric Ravilious – Tennis (in the park), 1930

The painting above is a three part set of panels designed Sir Geoffrey Fry’s Music Room in Portman Square, London. 

Ravilious based them on the Manor Gardens at Eastbourne, and treated the panels as a continuous composition. Above you can see the mounted hill with steps. Below you can see it in the wood-engraving, then how it looks today.

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 Eric Ravilious – Manor Gardens, 1927

 Horse Mound, Manor Gardens, Eastbourne 

Discoveries of Ravilious

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 Green Line Bus Advert with Ravilious’s Suburban Home Wood-engraving, 1935

Some time ago I was looking at all the Ravilious wood engravings and their links to each other for a book called Ravilious Recycled. I still haven’t finished the book but in doing it I have made a few discoveries that would add to what is known about the work of Eric Ravilious.

One is a design for the Green Line, the ‘Suburban Home’ with the silhouette of a man in top hat and umbrella standing in the doorway. The house turns out to be the Old Vicarage in Castle Hedingham, the same in the background of Vicarage in Winter, 1935. The steps, the ionic colonnaded door and the window above all say so – it isn’t a fact I have seen in print before and a genuine discovery by myself.

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 Eric Ravilious – Suburban Home, 1935

The advert was much smaller in printed size when in the newspapers than the other ‘banner’ like designs London Transport made around Ravilious blocks. It was not used on the Country Walks books. Nearby Greys Hall, in Sible Hedingham also became famous by proxy when used by illustrators Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone as the inspiration of Hell Hall in The Hundred and One Dalmatians.

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 The Old Vicarage, Castle Hedingham today.

In the memoir of Ravilious by Helen Binyon she writes of when Eric and Tirzah came to Castle Hedingham they didn’t know anyone in the village but soon befriended the Vicar and his wife, Rev. Guy and Evelyn Hepher.

The first time that Eric called at their large Georgian vicarage, he found the vicar having a bonfire of the temperance hymn books inherited from his predecessor – an activity that Eric certainly approved of. The vicarage was too large and uncomfortable to be easily run, but it afforded a refuge to the Raviliouses one very cold Christmas when all their pipes had frozen up. 

It was the same Christmas period in 1935 that Ravilious painted Vicarage in Winter below.

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 Eric Ravilious – Vicarage in Winter, 1935

Ravilious would go on to use Castle Hedingham for inspiration, as can be found in the Vicarage in Winter watercolour, started in the Winter of 1935. Tirzah writes in her diary that Eric’s paint had frozen on the brush and some days later Eric wrote to Helen Binyon

The snow picture is finished and not bad – rather pretty but so was the thing, like a Christmas card.

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 The Old Vicarage, Castle Hedingham today.

This watercolour takes us back to the Green Line illustrations and in 1936 Ravilious used the cottage to the right in Vicarage in Winter for one of his wood-engravings for London Transport. According to Barry Kitts

Ravilious has transformed the slates on the Essex cottage – into thatch. †

The Vicarage can be seen from behind with the same greenhouse as in the painting still standing today.

The block shows a woman cutting the hedge by the path leading up to a V shaped Sussex style stile. It is the shape of the wall to the left of the engraving and the hedge in Vicarage in Winter that bind them together as the same location.

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 Eric Ravilious – Cutting the Hedge, 1935

In Castle Hedingham I found the lane from Cutting
the Hedge. Looking at the watercolour Vicarage In Winter
I just went to about the same view point and found it on
a village footpath. The photograph (below) shows the same
stepped wall. The house Pottery Cottage has had a lot
of work and is just recognisable. If Vicarage In Winter
were painted today it would be covered in various states
of mid century architecture. It’s a joy to stand on the spot of location and see the work of art before you.

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 Cutting the Hedge’s view today.

The Lane was named after Castle Hedingham Ware, potted by Edward Bingham between 1864 and 1901.

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 Eric Ravilious – Kynoch Press Block 121, 1932 and the original woodblock.

The V Stile also appeared in the Kynoch Press Notebook for 1933. The stile is on the page for the 8th May but its technical name is Block 121. The Notebook has 42 engraved vignettes of rural life.

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 Eric Ravilious – Cutting the Hedge, 1935

Below is the press advert, the text in the advert talks of the clean breeze of the downs.

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 Eric Ravilious – Cutting the Hedge as part of a Green Line Advert, 1936

Ravilious – Engravings by Jeremy Greenwood, Wood Lea Press, 2008.
Eric Ravilious: Memoir of an Artist by Helen Binyon, Lutterworth Press, 1983

A New Booklet – Ravilious

In the books section there is the new free PDF booklet Writings on Ravilious. You can also download the Bawden booklet “Life in An English Village”.

Edward & Eric in Newhaven

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 Eric Ravilious – Brighton Queen at Night, 1935

The problem with book publishing is the rights to images and the expense of paying various people for them, thankfully the internet has a different code of conduct so when I make these posts, I can use pictures that have been lost, even from the world of Pintrest. I try hard to find as many relevant images as I can per topic. I say because someone suggested it was an easy blog to write, but the art of it is the research of quotes and images and though a topic ploughed before this post took a while to compile.

There is a lot on Eric Ravilious in Newhaven in print but very little on Edward Bawden and his feelings of the town other than a few letters back and forth. I start with how both Edward and Eric came to be in Newhaven. But the dates of the Bawden pictures are all over the place as he made visits to Newhaven alone apparently without Eric.

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 Edward Bawden – Ferryboat Entering Newhaven Harbour, 1935

Ravilious grew up in Sussex, in Eastbourne, where his parents had an antiques shop, studying first at the Eastbourne School of Art (1919-22) and then the Royal College of Art (1922-25), where he met his life-long friend Edward Bawden.

At this time in Edward Bawden and Eric Ravilious lives they were living and painting together with their wives in Brick House, Great Bardfield, they were using the local area of Essex as a source of work but they both wanted some variety. In the summer of 1935 the pair went out to scout painting locations for trips. Harwich was location that didn’t delight.

Earlier in the summer Edward had suggested going to draw at Harwich with Eric, but when they went to look round it, they didn’t like it enough, and planned instead to go again to Newhaven, and stay at the Hope Inn. They would go at the beginning of August, after they had put up the end of year students’ exhibition in the design room at the college.

His (Eric) childhood association with Sussex was reignited by an invitation in 1934 from the artist and polymath Peggy Angus to stay in her shepherd’s hut, Furlongs, on the South Downs. 

From Furlongs Ravilious could easily meet up with Bawden for their trip to Newhaven as Ravilious was spending a lot of time at Furlongs painting watercolours for an exhibition later that year.

Newhaven was distinguished by a distinctive breakwater and seawall with lighthouses perched at each end. Ravilious’s predilection for the nautical was shared by many of his contemporaries.

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 The Hope Inn, Newhaven, 1935

As in a previous post, I mentioned that for Ravilious, Sussex was convenient as a location, as he was lodging in two old caravans at Furlongs. For Bawden it would have been less convenient, it’s likely he came direct from Essex and met Ravilious in Newhaven. They lodged at the Hope Inn, a pub on the side of the cliffs and with a sea view on the edge of the town.

While Eric set to work painting ‘close up shots’ of boats and the edges of piers, Bawden’s work looked more widescreen and panoramic. The works Bawden were painting was rather playful and modern, a range of odd perspectives seamed to challenge him, the boat at a strange angle, looking down a hillside and the litter of boats and yardware made for a really interesting series of works.

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 Edward Bawden – September Noon Newhaven, 1935

From Furlongs, Ravilious made trips to paint at Newhaven, spending a slightly gruelling August and September at the Hope Inn with Bawden in September 1935. Bawden painted a stormy sea breaking over harbour moles, but Ravilious preferred the Victorian paddle steamers and dredgers with fine names like ‘Brighton Queen’, ‘The James’ and ‘The Foremost Prince’ which worked from Brighton Pier in the summer and were laid up at Newhaven out of season. ♥

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 A montage of Edward Bawden’s picture and below a ‘lost’ Eric Ravilious painting of Newhaven, Dredgers, 1935. 

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 Edward Bawden – September: 8:30pm (Newhaven), 1935

Directly Eric got to Newhaven, a terrific storm blew up, the worst for years. He walked to the end of the jetty to look at the lighthouse: ‘The spray from the breakers crashing on the weather-side of the breakwater was a quite extraordinary sight – I got very wet and think now it was almost a dangerous walk out there, but worth it.

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 Edward Bawden – September: 11am, 1937

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 Edward Bawden – September: Noon 1937

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 Edward Bawden – Newhaven No. 2, 1935

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 Eric Ravilious – Channel Steamer Leaving, 1935

Below are a few views form old photographs and postcards of Newhaven around the same time and showing the things Eric painted below.

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 Photograph of Newhaven Harbour, c1930.

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 Postcard of Newhaven Harbour, c1900.

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 Photograph of the Signal Station and Lighthouse on Newhaven Pier, c1960

These photographs above have various views around the watercolour, lithograph and woodcut below. It would show Ravilious again using and cycling the same subject matter for various commissions.

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 Eric Ravilious – Newhaven Harbour, 1935

The painting above was bought from the Zwemmer Gallery by Beryl Sinclair, nee Bowker. She studied with Edward and Eric at the Royal College of Art. She was known as Bowk. Ravilious painted her twice that we know, once into the Colwyn Bay Pier Murals by Ravilious in the kitchen with a plant and then again in one of the ‘lost’ Ravilious oil painting – ‘Bowk at the sink’, 1929-30.

Newhaven Harbour is everything you would want from a 1930s watercolour. The buildings look like Oliver Hall modernist houses in white with cubes and curves but in fact is Victorian. The lighthouse was built in 1885 and pulled down in 1976. It looks like a stage set design. The rigging and black circles where part of a semaphore signal that shows when the tide is in and out to boats wanting to enter or leave the harbour.

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 Eric Ravilious – Newhaven Harbour (detail), 1935

When asked to produce a print for Contemporary Lithographs, Ravilious made what he called a Homage to Seurat, a print made of a spongy sky and the typical halftone lines of colour over layered.

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 Eric Ravilious – Newhaven Harbour, 1937 – Contemporary Lithographs.

When approached to illustrate the Country Life Cookery Book in the same year of the Lithograph above, Ravilious took the details of his previous works and added seafood and a basket of fish emblazoned with the name of the town.

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 Eric Ravilious – February, Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937

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 Edward Bawden – September: 7PM, 1937

Staying at The Hope Inn in 1935 must have been a bit dull. But the next year the building would be pulled down and in it’s place a totally modernist building put up.

Eric Neve K.C., on behalf of the Ports-all United Breweries, made an application for the approval plans of proposed alterations to the Hope Inn, Newhaven. He said this was a desire to improve the accommodation of the existing house.

In a letter to Eric, Edward writes:

Meals and service have brightened; gone are those soft, stale oyster-eyed eggs and there is is less water and more gravy with the meat. ♦

Below is a picture of the then, new Hope Inn. White and modernist. At the time Newhaven was a popular way of crossing the channel to France.

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 The Hope Inn, Newhaven, 1936

During the Second World War Ravilious became a War Artist and he found himself in Newhaven again to sketch and paint the coastal defences.

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 Eric Ravilious – Coastal Defences, 1940

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 Newhaven – Harbour Breakwater today. Closed from public access.

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 Eric Ravilious – Coastal Defences, Harbour Breakwater, 1940 

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 Eric Ravilious – Coastal Defences, Convoy Leaving Harbour, 1940

† Helen Binyon – Eric Ravilious: Memoir of an Artist, 1983
Sothebys – Eric Ravilious
Alan Powers – Eric Ravilious: Imagined Realities, 2012
 Sussex Agricultural Express – Friday 07 February 1936
Letter from Edward Bawden to Eric Ravilious, 1936

Eric Ravilious for The Cornhill

The Cornhill Magazine was founded by George Murray Smith in 1859, the first issue in January 1860. It continued until 1975. It was a literary journal with a selection of articles on diverse subjects and serialisations of new novels. From the days when news was slower to make the press and a book was a luxury commodity, these magazines were more of a social service than a magazine is today. Smith hoped to gain some of the same readership enjoyed by All the Year Round, a similar magazine owned by Charles Dickens, and he employed as editor William Thackeray, Dickens’ great literary rival at the time.

The stories were often illustrated and it contained works from some of the foremost artists of the time including: George du Maurier, Edwin Landseer, Frederic Leighton, and John Everett Millais. Some of its subsequent editors included G. H. Lewes, Leslie Stephen, Ronald Gorell Barnes, James Payn, Peter Quennell and Leonard Huxley.

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 Eric Ravilious – Cornhill Title Block, 1932

When Ravilious first worked for the Cornhill Magazine it was 1932 with the wood engraving above, but in fact the first appearance of the block was in 1954 for the 1,000th issue of the magazine. Why it was not used isn’t clear but the magazine have used it a few times since for anniversaries and sometimes on the title pages.

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 Centenary Edition of the Cornhill magazine, 1954

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 Eric Ravilious – Wheatsheaf for The Cornhill, 1936

The wheat sheaf design was commissioned by a young publisher called John Arnaud Robin Grey (‘Jock’) Murray who was on the staff of the Cornhill Magazine at the time, before going on to publish the likes of John Betjeman, Dervla Murphy and Patrick Leigh Fermor.

The design was to be used as a New Year’s Card, likely for the staff. Details from a letter from Eric to Jock:

I am sending you a print and the block of your wheatsheaf. It is rather more like an Autumn List than a New Year’s card – but perhaps you won’t mind that, and anyway I enjoyed doing the job. I’ll see you tomorrow at the party. †

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 Eric Ravilious – An Athlete, 1933

The moon and sun design features in this work from 1933 for Fifty-Four Conceits a book by Martin Armstrong.

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 Eric Ravilious – Wheatsheaf for The Cornhill, 1936

In 1936 the block appears again but with the background washed out. Ravilious had painted printers white (for correcting errors in artworks) to edit out the background of the block. The printers then made the block into an electrotype metal block to print with for mass production with those areas cut out of the metal.

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 Eric Ravilious – Wheatsheaf that he sent to Jock Murray, painted out, 1936 

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 Eric Ravilious – Title-page (Harvest Festival), Wood-engraving for the Cornhill Magazine, 1936

Ravilious was working on the Country Life Cookery Book at the same time as this commission for The Cornhill Magazine in the later part of 1936 and the project overlapped. So when one of the wood engravings was rejected by Jock Murray he used it on the cookery book. I thought this engraving was a bit surreal and over the top until I discovered a drawing of it below.

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 Eric Ravilious – Harvest Festival and Loaves, 1936

I’ve been drawing the bread table in the church – dead and fancy loaves, barley and corn, apples and eggs – and I  thought it too beautiful not to place on record.

Having been rejected for one job Ravilious cut away the framed backdrop of the table and submitted the wood-engraving below for the Cookery Book project instead.

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 Eric Ravilious – Title-page (Harvest Festival), Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937

Below is another woodblock based on the same image made for The Writings of Gilbert White of Selborne in 1938. It’s a new version and not an edited restrike. Likely cut in 1937 as the job was commissioned in May of that year and the book published in 1938.

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 Eric Ravilious – (Harvest Festival), Wood-engraving for The Writings of Gilbert White of Selborne in 1938

One of the commissions for The Cornhill Ravilious got was a Spring and Autumn woodblocks. Below is the Spring wood-engraving looking like an explosion of nature with a Cuckoo in the centre. It was used on compliment slips.

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 Eric Ravilious – Cuckoo

The same Cuckoo can be seen in the Gilbert White book again on the woodcut in Volume II on p243. To the bottom left corner.

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 Eric Ravilious – Requirements of an Ornithologist, 1938

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 Eric Ravilious – Requirements of an Ornithologist, 1938 (detail)

Below is a woodcut for the four seasons. Holly for winter, bulb-flowers for spring, under a rose for summer and a selection of leaves for autumn.

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 Eric Ravilious – Four Seasons, 1932

In a letter from Ravilious to Jock Murray, 7 January 1932:

I am so glad you like the design for your Quarterly List here is the block with a few amendments. I have made the border lighter as you suggested, and I think that was a good idea. 

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The wood engravings were used in black for subscription notices inside the magazine and in colour in Greetings Cards when one subscribed to the magazine as noted in the advert above and pictured below. The rose was presumably uppermost in the summer with warm red and the holly in the winter in a cool blue.

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 Cornhill Magazine Greetings Cards

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 Eric Ravilious – Compliment Slip for the Cornhill Magazine using ‘Autumn Fruits’, 1936

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 Eric Ravilious – Autumn Fruits, 1936

The wood-engraving above, Autumn Fruits, would have been copied from the painting below, and in the printing process it appears reversed. Ravilious as we know was a great recycler of his work.

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 Eric Ravilious – Trugs with Fruit, 1936

The same trug appears in the wood engraving for the Country Life Cookery Books vignette ‘April’. The job came at the same time as the Cornhill Magazine commission. The watercolour of Trugs of Fruit above has the same trug in the ‘April’ wood engraving. The fruit is presumed to be full of redcurrants as it is also next to mint and a lamb.

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 Eric Ravilious – April, Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937

The cornucopia was also a popular device used by Ravilious and appears in the ‘Autumn Fruits’ wood-engraving / compliment slip for Murray. It too was recycled into a wood engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book for ‘July’.

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 Eric Ravilious – July, Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937

♠ Eric Ravilious to Helen Binton – 6th October, 1936
Jeremy Greenwood – Eric Ravilious Wood Engravings, 2008

Fireworks

Here is just a brief collection of Ravilious Firework pictures. During the war Eric wrote that the naval ship’s gunfire were like fireworks, I haven’t included those war works, but just the actual depictions of festive images.

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 Eric Ravilious – Fireworks – Mural at the Midland Hotel, Morecambe, 1933

The mural above was painted by Eric Ravilious and his wife Tirzah Garwood for the Midland Hotel in Morecambe. The hotel was designed by Oliver Hill. The murals in the dining room were in two parts, Fireworks and Flags, or Night and Day as they are also known.

The race to complete works in time for ‘a grand opening’ of the hotel would mean the newly plastered walls they were painting the mural on had not been left to dry sufficiently.

The diaries of both Eric and Tirzah tell of how leaks from the roof and cracks in the wall had also hindered the painting. The paint bubbled and chipped off within a year and the mural, only two years old was painted over.

The whole mural was repainted in 1989 for the filming of the Agatha Christie novel – Double Sin. Below you can see Hugh Fraser in front of the repainted mural. It is not precise, but good enough, the original pagoda building’s windows were circles, in the repainting they were rectangles.

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 Scene from Agatha Christie’s Double Sin, ITV, 1990

The painting below Alan Powers suggested might have been a study for the mural design by Ravilious. I think it shows a young artist in his bedsit flat in London, Bawden made a similar work in his etching, ‘London Back Garden, 1927’. As a friend of mine called it, “a stacked up world with too many people and not enough money”.

All his life, fireworks were an important and special source of inspiration for Eric’s work, and were made use of in many different ways. By now he and Tirzah had moved from Kensington to Hammersmith, but not before Eric had painted an elaborate watercolour of Bonfire Night, as watched from the roof of their house in Stratford Road. 

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 Eric Ravilious – November 5th, 1933

Below is another good example of Fireworks featured on the Coronation Mug by Ravilious for Wedgwood. The examples show wild fireworks on one side and on the other side firework fountains above the royal heraldic beasts.

A fun fact is that the shop Dunbar Hey were the first to stock the mug and the first customer was Wallis Simpson.

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 Eric Ravilious – Design for the Coronation Mug of Edward VIII  for Wedgwood, 1936

The final of the pictures comes from the book High Street, a series of lithographs by Ravilious with text by J.M.Richards, then husband of Peggy Angus.

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 Eric Ravilious – Fireworks – from the book High Street, 1938

Given the Second World War was coming I thought the inclusion of Mosley and his Blackshirt’s in the newspaper board highly interesting. If I was penning one of the many books on Ravilious I would say how Mosley and the fireworks were interlinked. That they would predict the horrors of the war to come and the domestic Ajax was a mockery of such views – Thankfully I think posturing after the fact is horse-crap.

† Helen Binyon – Eric Ravilious: Memoir of an Artist, 1983

Bardfield Cookery Collection – Vol I – Eric Ravilious

This is the first part in a series of posts I have been working on about the cookery books made by artists of Great Bardfield. This first volume is on Eric Ravilious. 

Eric William Ravilious (22 July 1903 – 2 September 1942) was an English painter, designer, book illustrator and wood-engraver. He grew up in East Sussex, and is particularly known for his watercolours of the South Downs and other English landscapes, which examine English landscape and vernacular art with an off-kilter, modernist sensibility and clarity. He served as a war artist, and died when the aircraft he was in was lost off Iceland. ◊

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 Dust Jacket for The Country Life Cookery Book by Ambrose Heath, 1937 

The Country Life Cookery Book was published in 1937 and illustrated by Eric Ravilious. Country Life to some may just be the magazine, but at this point in  history they were a major publisher about architecture, craft and a style of country life that would appeal to the new middle and upper classes of Britain. The publications normally contained lots of high quality photography.

In the same year as the Cookery Book was published were many other books, here are a few others for adults: Where To Catch Salmon And Trout, Elements Of Stabling, Morning Flight A Book Of Wildfowl, Gun For Company, Victorian Street Ballads. For children there were: Skilled Horsemanship, The Golden Knight and Other Stories, Peter & Co, Knight in Africa and Rajah the Elephant… as part of the ‘Junior Country Life Library’. 

The books are countryside propaganda in the age of travel by train, omnibus, charabanc and car. They were promoting Britain in the way they wanted to see it. It is fair to say when people talk about the ‘Golden Nineteen-Thirties’ that Country Life had a great deal in the legend.


The Title-Page

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 Eric Ravilious – Title-page of the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937

We know Ravilious got the commission for the cookery book in July 1936 as he wrote in this letter to Helen Binyon: 

This book is now begun and begins to be promising. 

The wood-engravings follow a seasonal theme, month by month rather than chapters on food or following the text – this calendar style is like the other Ambrose Heath books for Faber & Faber that Edward Bawden had illustrated for the previous five years. Only 12 blocks were cut by Ravilious for the in the book, so with the title page decoration, two of the months (January & December) used the same image. One can only assume this was how many images they thought they needed and so how many images they paid for.

Having the chapters as seasonal months would also hurry the project along from the illustration front – as in April of 1937, nine months later, Ravilious wrote to Binyon:

I don’t believe Heath has written his text yet.

But not having the text as a guide would mean Ravilious could invent the illustrations from his mind and use past works. He worked on the illustrations from July 1936 – February 1937 while taking on other commissioned work and finishing a series of watercolours. 

Below is the title page wood-engraving of a framed cornucopia, a wheat-sheaf and food produce. This illustration is a reject from another job. 

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 Eric Ravilious – Title-page (Harvest Festival), Wood-engraving for the Cornhill Magazine, 1936 

Ravilious was completing a commission for The Cornhill Magazine in the later part of 1936 and the project overlapped with the Cookery Book. So when one of the wood engravings was rejected by John Murray (editor of The Cornhill) he used it on the cookery book. I thought this engraving was a bit surreal and over the top until I discovered a drawing of it below. 

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 Eric Ravilious – Harvest Festival and Loaves, 1936

I’ve been drawing the bread table in the church – dead and fancy loaves, barley and corn, apples and eggs – and I  thought it too beautiful not to place on record. ♠

Having been rejected for one job Ravilious cut away the framed backdrop of the table and submitted the wood-engraving below for the Cookery Book project instead.

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 Eric Ravilious – Title-page (Harvest Festival), Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937 

Below is another woodblock based on the same image made for The Writings of Gilbert White of Selborne in 1938. It’s a new version and not an edited restrike. Likely cut in 1937 as the job was commissioned in May of that year and the book published in 1938. 

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 Eric Ravilious – (Harvest Festival), Wood-engraving for The Writings of Gilbert White of Selborne in 1938


January and December

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 Eric Ravilious – January & December, Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937

January & December is the block that is used twice in the cookery book. 

Ravilious would also find inspiration in the past. He owned a copy of The Frugal Housewife published by J Fairburn, 1838 and below is the meat guide on animals. I think this Ravilious woodcut is one of the defining moments in cookery illustration and helped re-popularise this old fashion key to animal flesh. The meat guide is now a typical image to see in cookery books to educate what meats can be gained from an animal. It is used three times in this book. He mentions the idea to use old cookery books below:

I’ve had what you would call a cleaver idea, and Mrs Beeton has been a help. 

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 Frontispiece – The Frugal Housewife, J. Fairburn, 1838


February 

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 Eric Ravilious – February, Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937

In the August of 1935 Edward Bawden and Ravilious went on a painting trip to Newhaven and in the wood-engraving above, the basket of fish emblazoned with the name of the town.

The idea for the wood engraving would also pop up again in another format, this time a print for Contemporary Lithographs, a company working with artists to make large runs of lithographic prints that would be cheap for the public to buy from the Zwemmer Gallery. Below is one of the watercolours from 1935 that could have been the inspiration for the commission. (The watercolour was also sold via Zwemmer Gallery).

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 Eric Ravilious – Newhaven Harbour, 1935 

The print that Ravilious completed is very similar to the Cookery Book print as the jobs overlapped. The official title of the print is Newhaven Harbour but Eric referred to the print as ‘Homage to Seurat’. Helen Binyon wrote that the print has a:

scene of sensitive clarity and beautiful luminosity ♦

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 Eric Ravilious – Newhaven Harbour, Contemporary Lithographs Ltd, 1937

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 Eric Ravilious – February, Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937


March

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 Eric Ravilious – March, Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937

A pig surrounded by the fruit of choice, apples, and to the left of the wood-engraving a garden sieve with berries upon it. The watercolour below comes from the same year as the Cookery Book’s commission, but is now one of the lost paintings of Ravilious, it was also damaged when last seen having had the top left corner ripped and creased. 

Trugs with Fruit is a lost watercolour by Eric Ravilious, damaged. In the corner it may have been framed and sold or just disregarded and thrown away, but it appears in the wood engraving in this commission for John G Murray, editor of the Cornhill Magazine. It was made for publicity for the Magazine but so far has only ever been seen on the compliment slips they had for a short time.

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 Eric Ravilious – Trugs with Fruit, 1936


April

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 Eric Ravilious – April, Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937

Rather like the Title Page, the wood engraving for April came at the same time as the Cornhill Magazine commission. Below is a watercolour, now presumed lost of trugs of fruit and the same trug appears in the wood engraving next to a glass of mint – these are red currents and mint, said to be the good sauces for Lamb.

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 Eric Ravilious – Trugs with Fruit, 1936

The wood-engraving below would have been copied from the painting and in the printing process it appears reversed, it comes with the same cornucopia from the title-page engraving. 

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 Eric Ravilious – Autumn Fruits, 1936

And here you can see the wood-engraving in use on the Cornhill Magazine compliment slip.

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 Eric Ravilious – Cornhill Magazine Complement Slip with Autumn Fruits, 1936


May

The wood-engraving for May looks to be the most original of all of the illustrations, I can’t think of having seen any element in past work.

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 Eric Ravilious – May, Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937


June

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 Eric Ravilious – June, Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937

The June illustration features a bee-hive. A variation of the image would be used two years later on The Garden Implements Jug that was also designed by Ravilious for Wedgwood. The bottom most vignette. 

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 Wedgwood Garden Implements Jug, 1939


July

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 Eric Ravilious – July, Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937

The wood-engraving for July has roots in many places. The finished wood block has a hat, cornucopia of pears, a hat on the backdrop of hills and cornstooks. In an early drawing for the wood-block the hat is in the same place (reversed when printed) but many of the other elements have changed.   

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 Eric Ravilious – Proposed July Block, Drawing made on tracing paper for woodblock, (reversed for printing), 1936

It is likely that the print Ravilious drew out was inspired by the Harvest theme of the month he was illustrating and he looked back on older work. Below the wood engraving from 1934 is one of many Curwen Press Stock Blocks. They are woodblocks and prints the press has paid artists to make so they can be used without the need to hire an illustrator for a job, so production times can be quicker and still have illustrated items.

The tree and setting of cornstooks reminded me of the drawing he made above and even the way the stooks flow uphill.

Eric Ravilious – July, Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937

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 Eric Ravilious – Curwen Press Stock Block 985, 1936

The booklet the block was used upon happened to be called Spectator Harvest, for the Spectator Magazine. 

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 Spectator Harvest, 1952

It was also re-cut in mirror image for The Writings of Gilbert White of Selborne in 1938.

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 Eric Ravilious – Selborne Tailpiece Volume 2, 1938

But back to the cookery book – the cornucopia below (that appeared next to a hat and a baguette) has been seen before in this post – in the wood-engraving in use on the Cornhill Magazine compliment slip.

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 Eric Ravilious – July, Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937

One above the other, it isn’t hard to see a link.

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 Eric Ravilious – Autumn Fruits, 1936


August

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Eric Ravilious – August, Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937

For the August vignette Ravilious chose to illustrate the garden of Brick House in Great Bardfield. Ravilious and his wife Tirzah had shared the house with Edward Bawden and his wife Charlotte from 1932 until 1935 when the Raviliouses moved to near-by Castle Hedingham. 

In 1936 Bawden painted the garden in the winter of the Cookery Book commission showing the wood gazebo that was up in 1932 as it was a wedding gift from Eric and Tirzah to Edward and Charlotte. The arches must have been added between then, around 1936. 

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 Edward Bawden, February 2pm, 1936

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 Eric Ravilious – The Garden Path, 1933

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 Eric Ravilious – August – Drawing made on tracing paper for woodblock, 1936 (reversed for printing)


September

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 Eric Ravilious – September, Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937

The illustration for September shows the game shooting season and a brace of birds, maybe a goose to the left and pheasants to the right in front of a country lane. Below is the original trace drawing for the block, reversed for printing. 

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 Eric Ravilious – September, Drawing made on tracing paper for woodblock, (reversed for printing), 1936

Followers of my blog would not be surprised to see that the illustration bears a similarity to another one, the wood-engraving for London Transport, this is confirmed in a letter to Helen Binyon again:

The jobs, cookery and Green Line advertisements – are all done and sent off and very glad am I that hard work is finished.

Counter to the letter I can’t find another reference to them in print.

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 Eric Ravilious – The Shepard, 1936

The Shepard is one of the most lively engravings that Ravilious made for London Transport. The Sheep and their ears with the hillside up to the house are pleasing. The technicality of the halftone shading are some of his best. ♥

The Cookery Books version of the engraving is more detailed, I think because the printing was likely to be finer than the press adverts the London Transport one would be reproduced in.

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 Eric Ravilious – September, Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937


October

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 Eric Ravilious – October, Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937

October sees kitchen items, a jug, copper jelly mould stacked mixing bowls and baking trays with two jars of preserved items.


November

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 Eric Ravilious – November, Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937

The last work of a chicken farm and a turkey with wheelbarrow gives the Christmas feeling and may have been marked to have been the December illustration but January’s wood-engraving was also used as December.

Eric Ravilious to Helen Binyon – 19th July, 1936
Eric Ravilious to Helen Binyon – 14th April, 1937
Eric Ravilious to Helen Binton – 6th October, 1936
Eric Ravilious to Helen Binyon – 17th August (1936) 
Helen Binyon – Eric Ravilious: Memoir of an Artist, 2016
♥ Robjn Cantus – A Journey of London Transport with Eric Ravilious, 2018
◊ Wikipedia – Eric Ravilious

Ewen Bridge Farm

In 1941 Eric Ravilious moved to Ironbridge Farm, Shalford, Essex. It was to be the last home he would know. The Second World War had come and he was touring the country painting works on behalf of the War Artists’ Advisory Committee.

The farmhouse, which dates from the 16th century is called Ewen Bridge Farm, though it is also confused as Iron Bridge Farm as there is a bridge with ironwork nearby on a footpath, however this is a coincidence and has no historical reference to the farmhouse.

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 Eric Ravilious – Iron Bridge at Ewenbridge, 1941

In the year before the move from Castle Hedingham to the Farm, Ravilious’s wife Tirzah, was diagnosed with breast cancer and just before moving in 1941, Eric’s mother Emma died, she was 77 years old. Tizah gave birth to Anne Ravilious (Ullmann) and they moved into the farm.

At the end of April, at very short notice, they all moved from Castle Hedingham to a new house, but still in Essex. It was called Ironbridge Farm, at Shalford, near Braintree, and was in the valley of the Pant. The country and the river were looking lovely in the spring. The house, an old one, with very few conveniences.

Eric’s friend Peggy Angus rented Furlongs, a cottage on an a vast country estate and never bought the property, continuing to rent it all her life. Furlongs also had no electricity but did have running water. Peggy’s life may have been the inspiration for the move, and the desire for more space would have been obvious with three children now in the family. The farm was also five miles closer to Great Bardfield than Castle Hedingham.

They rented Ironbridge Farm at Shalton, near Braintree, paying half the rent to their landlord (the Labour politician John Strachey) in Eric’s pictures. 

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 Eric Ravilious – Farm House and Field, 1941

The house then looks to have been clad and whitewashed, however today the building has it’s beams exposed and is painted a light yellow, otherwise externally it is much the same.

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 Ironbridge Farm today.

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 Eric Ravilious – Tree Trunk & Barrow Ironbridge, 1941

The inside of the house looks a lonely whitewashed place. No time for decorating looks to have been spared and with the war and the fact it was a rented property it may not have happened at all, in the following paintings the rooms have few items of furniture in them, making every room look colder. On the wall is another of his paintings from the house. In the interior paintings Ravilious shows us his other works or tubes of paints, it is like he is looking at a mirror with out himself in it.

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 Eric Ravilious – Ironbridge Interior, 1941 

In the painting below (Flowers on Cottage Table), the vase on a coaster is an undecorated specimen from Wedgwood for Ravilious’s Boat Race Vase in 1938. It shows that he must have designed for the china with demonstration shapes in front of him.

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 Eric Ravilious – Boat Race Day Footed Bowl, 1938

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 Eric Ravilious – Flowers on Cottage Table, 1941 

Below is a draft copy of the same painting but in an unfinished state.

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 Eric Ravilious – Garden Flowers on Cottage Table, 1941

Ian Carter – Railways and Culture in Britain: The Epitome of Modernity, 2001
Helen Binyon – Eric Ravilious: Memoir of an Artist, 1983
  Robert Harling – Ravilious & Wedgwood, 1986