Ravilious in Rye

This post started off with me wondering where the picture below was painted and the view from the window. It turns out to be Rye and the view is of the Harbour there. The pub it was painted in still exists. 


 Eric Ravilious – Room at the William the Conqueror, 1938

In real life the Room at the William the Conqueror painting is an odd one. It has a section of it pasted over with paper that has been repainted in the middle of the painting, almost like a sketch that was compleated. The ‘edit’ must have been a different paper as it has yellowed in a way the rest of the painting hasn’t. I wonder what is under the patch? My guess is a chair – if it was Bawden it would have been a cat.

The image below is the pub, still standing today with the bay windows upstairs and the view of the harbour that they face. It is always nice to look at a painting and be able to find the location and wonder that almost 80 years ago Ravilious was up there painting away.


 The William the Conqueror Pub more recently. 

The view out of the window then would have been like the postcard below, the lighthouse to the right with the shed just beside it, the harbour in use with all sizes of sea-craft. The design of the lighthouse is also not what you would think of, it looks like it was constructed of wood.


The view Ravilious would pick turns out to be a favourite of artists, looking at other paintings of Rye Harbour many painted the lighthouse from across the water. 

The harbour itself was tidal and some way inland, so it was not always safe for boats to travel inland if the tide was out. This led to the building of the lighthouse, to warn of the low tide. A complex  but fascinating sequence of lights shining from the lighthouse out to sea, signalled if it was safe to travel into the harbour or not.

At night the lighthouse was used with a red light exhibited from a window at 25 feet above height water level, visible for 3 miles, to indicate 8 feet clearance above the bar. When the level rose to 9 feet an additional bright white light was exhibited from a second window at 12 feet above high water level and finally when the clearance was over 10 feet the red light was extinguished leaving only the white light showing.

The painting below is only a few paces down the embankment from the pub but it shows off the litter of the port-side and Ravilious’s love for antiquated and forgotten items.


 Eric Ravilious – Anchor and Boats, Rye, 1938


 Eric Ravilious – Rye Harbour, 1938

This painting has a different angle and one of Ravilious’s most famous works, the mouth of the harbour on the way out to sea at low tide.

He (Ravilious) went on to Rye Harbour to paint, staying at the William the Conqueror Inn. The artist Edward Le Bas, who was staying at his cottage nearby, saw the landscape Eric was painting and liked it.

Edward La Bas also painted the same scene of the lighthouse over the harbour the next year. 


 Edward Le Bas – The Lighthouse, Rye Harbour, East Sussex, 1939
 Once in the collection of Edward Marsh.