Last week, in a box outside a bookshop I found this book for a pound. It is the The Countrywoman’s Year, 1960. Paid for by the Women’s Institute, it is a curious book of crafts, recipes, instruction and advice on making wine, beekeeping, growing indoor plants and all the mumsey crafts of made-do-and-mend. Why it is singled out to appear on my blog? Because it is peppered with Eric Ravilious illustrations. I am unsure how, or why, but I would guess that the illustrations were in the sample books of the Curwen Press and in those days you had books of designs and devices used by the press, as well as typographic books too, a high class version of clipart.
The title page image is a thresholded image of Raviliouses design for Wedgwood’s Garden design. Appearing on a soup bowl, the print likely taken from the transfer plate would have been reversed as in the book.
The image below appears on the back of the contents is The Village, for the cover of a journal by the National Council of Social Science, 1933.
Below is a design for Wedgwood again, but this time for a Lemonade set in 1939. You can see how the image appeared on the jug when it was first released and how it looks without the enamel colouring over the top.
The baking kitchen scene is a December Headpiece to a calendar in The Twelve Months, by Nicholas Breton, ed. Brian Rhys and published by the Golden Cockerel Press, 1927. The image below of the dustpan is from the same book and is the headpiece for February.
The block below of pancakes in a pan is from the Kynoch Diary 1933 that Ravilious illustrated in 1932, it’s title is Block 122. The book is below.
Below is another block from the Kynoch Notebook, this time, Block 110
Kynoch Press, 1933 illustrated by Eric Ravilious.
The illustration for summer is a larger version of the title page image, and the illustration as previously seen for Wedgwood’s Garden plates.
The illustration by Eric Ravilious below was originally used for the Country Life Cookery Book, June, 1937.
The wood engraving below was a bit of a mystery, I thought it was Ravilious but it wasn’t in any of the reference books on him (Greenwood) and it was identified by David Wakefield as being a wood engraving for a Apple box label for the Ministry of Agriculture in 1934. In 2018 it was published in the ‘Eric Ravilious Scrapbooks‘.
For the chapter ‘Painting for Pleasure‘ uses part of the cover to the BBC Radio Talks Pamphlet on British Art. January 14th – February 18th, 1934.
Eric Ravilious – BBC Radio Talks Pamphlet on British Art, 1934
The wood-engraving used above can be seen below, called Two Cows and was used for the cover of a London Transport Walking and touring guide.
1936 cover to Country Walks, 3rd Series with a Ravilious Design of Two Cows.
Below you can see the work re-cycled into a watercolour also named Two Cows. Here keeping the study of a cow in the same pose and doubling it, both cows are the same tracing but coloured differently.
Eric Ravilious – Two Cows, 1936, The Fry Gallery
Above and below are both from the Country Life Cookery Book, July (above) and October (below), 1937.
The last little wood engraving was a projected design for a book plate but looks to illustrate a chocolate log and christmas pudding,
Eric Ravilious – Projected Bookplate, 1937
The editor of the book was Elizabeth Shirley Vaughan Paget, Marchioness of Anglesey, DBE, LVO, Shirley Morgan began her career in the Foreign Office as personal secretary to Gladwyn Jebb until her marriage to Lord Anglesey in 1949. As Marchioness of Anglesey, she served as President of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes 1966–1969, a board member of the British Council 1985–1995, chairman of the Broadcasting Complaints Commission 1987–1991, and vice-chairman of the Museums and Galleries Commission 1989–1996.
This is a post about the back of Brick House, the home of Edward Bawden in Great Bardfield. It is an odd thing but many artists ended up painting the back of Bawden’s house more than the front. One would guess they were painted during parties or over weekends.
Edward Bawden and Eric Ravilious were young artists, they met as students at the Royal College of Art, London, in 1922. Bawden and Ravilious moved into Essex in 1925, Cycling around the area they came across Brick House, Great Bardfield where they rented rooms from Mrs Kinnear, a retired ship-stewardess, for weekends away from London.
Ronald Maddox – Brick House, 1960
Brick House is an early 18th Century red brick house with two floors and windowed attics. The property had two staircases, so when the house was rented it was divided into two parts with a shared kitchen and scullery. It had been the home of a carriage maker, a girls school, and a coffin maker in it’s past. Mrs Kinnear rented rooms but lived her with two daughters and her dog.
When Edward Bawden married Charlotte Epton in 1932, Edward’s father bought them Brick House as a wedding gift and Charlotte’s father, who was a solicitor took care of the paperwork.
The first picture here, by Eric Ravilious is painted from the top of the house. At this time the roof was being repaired and retiled as it was in poor condition after purchase. Edward and Eric both climbed up the ladders to the roof to paint the view, you can see more of the guttering to the right of the picture below than you could from the view of Edward’s studio.
Eric Ravilious – Prospect from an Attic, 1932
The picture below by Bawden shows the roof being repaired by Elisha Parker and Eric Townsend and their ladder to the roof. Even though the house was sold, Mrs Kinnear (the old landlady) had left all her possessions in the building while she took up a Housekeeper post in the New Forest. Charlotte managed to arrange that the possessions would be stored in the Village Hall and with the help of Mrs Townsend (Eric’s mother, who was also the washer woman) she moved them out of the house. While the roof was repaired Charlotte Bawden cleaned and fumigated the rooms prior to them being decorated.
You can see Elisha and Eric on the roof below.
Edward Bawden – They dreamt not of a perishable home, who thus could build, 1932
The bizarre name for the painting was inspired by Mary Gwen Lloyd Thomas, one of Charlotte’s friends who edited poetry books, the quote is from Wordsworth:
They dreamt not of a perishable home who thus could build Be mine, in hours of fear Or grovelling thought, to seek a refuge here; Or through the aisles of Westminster to roam; Where bubbles burst, and folly’s dancing foam Melts, if it cross the threshold
In the Garden is a little wooden trellised hut that the Raviliouses had given to the Bawden’s as a wedding present. You can see the foundations being installed in the picture above with wheelbarrows around and upturned earth (They dreamt not of a perishable home…).
It is my feeling that the picture below by Charles Mahoney was painted in 1932, likely just after the roof was completed. It is part of the collection of the Royal Academy and they date it as 1950s, likely because the missing trellis. Why do I think ’32? Well the same concrete foundations and wheelbarrows are where the trellis would later stand (the site of the buckets), and the waterbutt is to the left in Mahoney’s painting where as in the painting below it by Ravilious the waterbutt has been moved. Also the shed beside the trellis was lost in the war and replaced by one with a different roof axis. But mostly because it looks so much like the painting above.
Charles Mahoney – Barnyard (RA Say 1950’s I say 1932)
You can see the completed trellis in the picture by Ravilious below. Also the blue gates helped divide the part of the Bawden’s garden from Mrs Kinnear part of the house originally, it was also where she kept her dog. Later on as motorcars became popular the gates would divide the house from the driveway.
Eric Ravilious – The Garden Path, 1933
The brougham cart in the picture below was a purchase by Charlotte Bawden who bought it mostly because she thought the wheels were so valuable. Tom Ives (the farmer from Ives Farm at the end of their Garden) was selling it, and for some years it was kept under the trellis.
On the top of the trellis building is a wooden carved soldier made by Eric Townsend, the arms moved in the wind to scare birds on the farms.
Edward Bawden, My heart, untravel’d, fondly turns to thee (aka Derelict Cab), 1933
The picture below is of a Snowstorm by Bawden, he has scratched the paper to give the effect of snow blowing on the wind in all directions as it falls. The view is from the window in his Studio that looked almost right down the drain pipe. The carriage likely sold or scrapped by that point.
Edward Bawden, February 2pm, 1936
In 1937 the Country Life Cookbook had wood engravings inside, designed by Eric Ravilious and it featured a small wood engraving of the Brick House garden and the trellis again. By this time the Raviliouses had moved to Castle Hedingham, about six miles east of Great Bardfield.
Eric Ravilious – August, Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937
Below is a painting by another visitor to Brick House, Geoffrey Hamilton Rhoades. He is mentioned in Anne Ullman’s edited Tirzah Garwood biography Long Live Great Bardfield. This painting has a guessed age of c1940s, I would again say it is likely mid-to-late 1930s as the toy soldier is still on top of the trellis. The other amazing and totally unrelated detail about this painting is it was bought by Pixie O’Shaughnessy-Lorant in 1987. What an amazing name!
Geoffrey Hamilton Rhoades – Brick House, Great Bardfield, likely about 1935
During the Second World War Edward was touring the world painting as an official War Artist, Charlotte was in Cheltenham teaching and potting at Winchcombe, and their two children Richard and Joanna were at private schools in the Cotswolds. As the Brick House was empty it was used, and abused by the Home Guard and local officials as a headquarters. The house was the only building in Great Bardfield to suffer bomb damage. Many villages in the East of England were bombed, not as planned targets, but mostly from German bombers trying to dispel leftover bombs after failed bombing raids on airfields, factories or docks. The bombs being so heavy would use up more their the aircraft’s fuel and make it harder to fly back to their Nazi bases over the German Ocean.
After the War, John Aldridge painted the builders repairing Brick House. It was likely that the trellised building Eric and Tirzah gave to the Bawden’s was blown up at the same time. Eric, also an official war artist was also lost in the Second World War, in an aircraft off the coast of Iceland.
John Aldridge – Builders at Work, Brick House, Great Bardfield, 1946
John Aldridge had moved to Great Bardfield with Lucie Brown (nee Saunders) and the couple lived in sin until in 1940 John married her when he signed up to join the war effort.
The last painting of Brick House is this snow scene by Edward in 1955. Richard and Joanna are on a sledge and the roofs are covered with snow as is the ground making the red bricks bolder in colour.
Edward Bawden – Brick House, Great Bardfield, 1955
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. ‡
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. ‡
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.
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.
Cutting the Hedge’s view today.
The Lane was named after Castle Hedingham Ware, potted by Edward Bingham between 1864 and 1901.
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.
Eric Ravilious – Cutting the Hedge, 1935
Below is the press advert, the text in the advert talks of the clean breeze of the downs.
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
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.
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. ‡
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.
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. ♥
A montage of Edward Bawden’s picture and below a ‘lost’ Eric Ravilious painting of Newhaven, Dredgers, 1935.
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. †
Edward Bawden – September: 11am, 1937
Edward Bawden – September: Noon 1937
Edward Bawden – Newhaven No. 2, 1935
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.
Photograph of Newhaven Harbour, c1930.
Postcard of Newhaven Harbour, c1900.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Eric Ravilious – February, Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937
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.
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.
Eric Ravilious – Coastal Defences, 1940
Newhaven – Harbour Breakwater today. Closed from public access.
Eric Ravilious – Coastal Defences, Harbour Breakwater, 1940
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
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.
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.
Centenary Edition of the Cornhill magazine, 1954
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. †
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.
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.
Eric Ravilious – Wheatsheaf that he sent to Jock Murray, painted out, 1936
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Eric Ravilious – Requirements of an Ornithologist, 1938
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.
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. †
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.
Cornhill Magazine Greetings Cards
Eric Ravilious – Compliment Slip for the Cornhill Magazine using ‘Autumn Fruits’, 1936
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.
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.
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’.
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