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.

image

 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.

image

 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. 

image

 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.

image

 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.

image

 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. ◊

image

 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

image

 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. 

image

 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. 

image

 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.

image

 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. 

image

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


January and December

image

 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. 

image

 Frontispiece – The Frugal Housewife, J. Fairburn, 1838


February 

image

 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).

image

 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 ♦

image

 Eric Ravilious – Newhaven Harbour, Contemporary Lithographs Ltd, 1937

image

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


March

image

 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.

image

 Eric Ravilious – Trugs with Fruit, 1936


April

image

 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.

image

 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. 

image

 Eric Ravilious – Autumn Fruits, 1936

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

image

 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.

image

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


June

image

 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. 

image

 Wedgwood Garden Implements Jug, 1939


July

image

 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.   

image

 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

image

 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. 

image

 Spectator Harvest, 1952

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

image

 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.

image

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

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

image

 Eric Ravilious – Autumn Fruits, 1936


August

image

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. 

image

 Edward Bawden, February 2pm, 1936

image

 Eric Ravilious – The Garden Path, 1933

image

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


September

image

 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. 

image

 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.

image

 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.

image

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


October

image

 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

image

 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.

image

 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. 

image

 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.

image

 Ironbridge Farm today.

image

 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.

image

 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.

image

 Eric Ravilious – Boat Race Day Footed Bowl, 1938

image

 Eric Ravilious – Flowers on Cottage Table, 1941 

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

image

 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

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. 

image

 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.

image

 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.

image

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.

image

 Eric Ravilious – Anchor and Boats, Rye, 1938

image

 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. 

image

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

The Cement Works

image

 Eric Ravilious – Tea at Furlongs, 1939

From 1933 until the early 1990s, Peggy Angus lived at Furlongs, a cottage on the remote south downs near Beddingham – a stone’s throw from Glyndebourne and Charleston. Before the Second World War she entertained many notable artists of the day at Furlongs, including Eric Ravilious and John Piper. The life of Peggy Angus reads from the page like the royalty of the 1930s art world.

Born in Chile on 9 November 1904, in a railway station, the eleventh of thirteen children of a Scottish railway engineer. She spent her first five years in Chile before her family returned to Britain. She grew up in Muswell Hill and became a pupil at the North London Collegiate School. At 17, she entered the Royal College of Art and, later, won a painting and teaching scholarship to Paris.

At the RCA, her contemporaries included the sculptors Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth, the painters Eric Ravilious and Edward Bawden, and illustrators Barnett Freedman and Enid Marx. Angus wanted to be a painter but soon transferred to the Design School at the RCA, where she was taught by Paul Nash. In order to earn a living, Angus took a teacher training course and began her first teaching post in 1925. Angus travelled to Russia in 1932 for an art teachers’ study visit and later urged her students to travel to the Soviet Union. This earned her the nickname “Red Angus.”

After her visit to Russia in 1932, she became one of the founding members of Artists’ International Association, an organisation born out of social and political conflicts of the 1930s. Between 1938 and 1947, Angus was married to James Maude Richards (author of Castles on the ground, High Street), a young architect and writer, with whom she had a daughter, Victoria, and a son Angus. Later, Richards and Angus divorced. Richards became editor of the Architectural Review and introduced her to many modernist architects. ♥

Eric Ravilious first came to visit Furlongs in 1934. Peggy Angus and her husband J M Richards had a lodger who lived with them in London, it was Helen Binyon, daughter of Laurence Binyon. Helen was a talented wood-engraver. On a trip to Furlongs, Ravilious and Binyon found themselves antiquated themselves with each other.

image

 Peggy Angus – Eric Ravilious and Helen Binyon, 1934

Ravilious and Helen Binyon had been students together at the RCA, but lost touch. Peggy Angus brought them back together. Tirzah certainly visited Furlongs in 1934, but Eric’s many later visits were made to meet Binyon, with whom he conducted a flaming affair for five years. In 1938 Binyon’s concern for Tirzah forced an end to this relationship.

On a local trip Peggy Angus took Ravilious to a cement works that was on the other side of Lewes.

In the cement works close to Furlongs, Ravilious found a miniature landscape complete with dramatic cliffs and deep gorges: a kind of modern, industrial – and in a strange way domesticated – version of the Romantic landscapes painted by Cozens and Towne. ♣

Peggy Angus took Ravilious to see a recently opened cement works, where miniature ‘Dolly’ engines ran on curving tracks, a few miles away across the hills. As Binyon recalls, the manager ‘was surprised but pleased to meet two artists who could see beauty in his works and said they were welcome to come and draw there; he had been pained to find, when the works were started, that he was considered a desecrator of the countryside and an object of abuse from the locals.

In a letter Tirzah Ravilious wrote:

There were two cement works nearby, one called Greta and the other called Garbo, and Eric was delighted with them and the funny little engines which drove the trucks. He was very happy there and did a series of cement works pictures. 

Angus and Ravilious would paint together, Angus using oil paints and Ravilious watercolours. Both produced lively works, but with Eric’s works being more simple and abstracted to the eye and Angus’s being nearer to how a photograph would see it.

image

 Peggy Angus – Asham Cement Works, 1934

image

 Peggy Angus – Asham Cement Works, 1934 

image

 Eric Ravilious – Alpha Cement Works, 1934

image

 Eric Ravilious – The Cement Pit I, 1934

image

 Eric Ravilious – Cement Works II, 1934

image

 Eric Ravilious, Dolly Engine, 1934

Below is a letter from Angus to Ravilious, noting how he sent them an Optimus lamp and noting that she has finished one of her oil paintings of the cement works. The drawing below has Peggy’s address has a haystack, like Eric would paint the next year (pictured under the letter).

image

 Letter from Peggy Angus to Eric Ravilious 

image

 Eric Ravilious – Furlongs, 1935

In order to do more work at Furlongs and likely to have time away from Tirzah, and more time with Helen, Eric bought two old Caravans that had been used as mobile pest houses.

image

 Eric Ravilious – Caravans, 1936

When Peggy and Eric were walking home from the cement works, and had just crossed the Newhaven road, they noticed what seemed to be an old track below the side of the lane they were on, and underneath its overgrown vegetation they saw bits of what seemed to be two odd-looking vehicles. They crawled round them but could not make out what they were. When they asked Mr Wilson at the cement works about them, he said they were fever wagons from the Boer War; after the war they had been shipped back to Newhaven. He thought they might have been used by the first prospectors for the cement works and then been dumped where they were now. He had no use for them and offered to sell them for 15 shillings each. 

Ravilious rooted out two abandoned horse-drawn Crimean War fever wagons from local ditches, then arranged for them to be secreted in undergrowth near Furlongs. One was fitted up as a bedroom, the other as a studio. ♠

We know when Ravilious’s wife Tirzah came on a visit to Furlongs that she decorated the bedroom caravan. She also accepted his trips to Sussex painting, leaving her at home in Essex as he was producing enough paintings to furnish one of his art shows at Zwemmer Galleries. He had connected with the landscape and was turning out many colourful works.

Ravilious would also use Furlongs as a base to explore away from the house. He would paint Newhaven starting out from Furlongs to meet Edward Bawden and both staying in at the Hope Inn.

The second time the Raviliouses came they brought with them more painting materials and Tirzah’s marbling apparatus and sheets of Michallet paper. She set all this up and was soon making charming patterned papers; some of the plum-coloured ones she used to paper the wall in the Furlongs kitchen.

While Tirzah awaited the birth of their second child, James, in Eastbourne. Peggy Angus was there, also expecting a baby, and there were other visits and visitors.One evening was spent at Bentley Wood with architect Serge Chermayeff, and another drinking claret with Diana Low in the garden at Furlongs. In the resulting paintings, particularly Tea at Furlongs and Interior at Furlongs. 

Ravilious returned to Furlongs for the last time in August 1939.

† James Russell – Ravilious: The Watercolours, 2015
Helen Binyon  – Eric Ravilious: Memoir of an Artist, 1983
Ian Carter – Railways and Culture in Britain: The Epitome of Modernity, 2001
♣ Eric Ravilious – Dulwich Picture Gallery Guide, 2015
Wikipedia – Peggy Angus
Eric Ravilious: Imagined Realities, 2004

The Dunbar Hay Chair

Whenever I have tried to find information on the maker of the chair below I have always hit a wall. We know it was designed by Eric Ravilious for the shop Dunbar Hay Ltd in 1937. I put a tweet out but nothing came of it until I asked someone on Instagram who collected Kelly’s Guides and other business directories. 

Before this the only information to be found in any book or in the V&A archive was that the chair was made by H.Harris.

It might not look to be important but you never know what links come from this information and it could in time help to find out production numbers, if any other designs were made or rejected, any surplus stock and on…

image

Eric Ravilious Designed Chair as part of a table set sold at Dunbar Hay, 1937

This armchair forms part of a dining suite, the only known furniture designed by Eric Ravilious. He was an artist and illustrator whose paintings included murals for interiors. The chair was commissioned for a new furnishing shop founded by Cecilia Dunbar Kilburn and Athole Hay. Four dining sets with variations were made.

In the 1930s there were still many enemies of the square and sometimes harsh shapes of modernism. Many designers and patrons preferred furniture that had links with the past. This chair is in keeping with the popular Regency revival style of the 1930s. The lines are recognisably those of the English Regency style (about 1810–30), but they are simplified to correspond to 1930s taste. 

The person on Instagram was David Wakefield, a typographer and designer with an amazing collection of books on printmaking and ephemera. It was with his help alone I can tell you now that H. Harris was Hyman Harris. 

In 1911, Hyman Harris was recorded at 3 Grimsby Street, Bethnal Green. At that time, advertised as a wood chimney-piece manufacturer with Williamson & Harris at Guy’s Buildings and 85 Kingsland Road. 

By 1931, he is H Harris & Sons Ltd, at 18 Gosset Street and 17 & 25 Newling Street, Bethnal Green, still recorded as chimney-piece manufacturer. However, by 1944, or earlier after 1931, he is H Harris & Sons (Furniture) Ltd, Who. cabinet makers, Grimsby Street, E2. 

The business continued until 1968.

image

Many thanks to David Wakefield. Look up his Instagram page here.

V&A Archive CIRC.265&A-1948
c/o D.Wakefield

Ravilious on the Roadshow

For those of you who live in the UK, on the BBC last night was the Antiques Roadshow. A lady had bought along a wood engraving found in her husbands-grandmothers attic, a signed wood-engraving by Eric Ravilious. It was being valued by Mark Hill and appears at 7min 50seconds, the link is here (UK Only).

The engraving appears on the back cover of the Golden Cockerel Press Spring Prospectus List for 1930. 

image
image
image

Eric Ravilious – Design for Back Cover of the Golden Cockerel Press Spring Prospectus List, 1930

Lemonade Memory Bubbles

Eric the copycat Ravilious, as I am starting to think of him, may well have taken delight in how surprised I am that so many of his designs are recycled from other works. Over the ages he might be whispering ‘In front of your face are the clues, now go find them’ but as in my previous blogs, I take delight in such matters.

image

In 1936, Cecilia Dunbar Kilburn

(later Lady Sempill) and (the Royal College of Art registrar) Athole Hay, set up a shop to promote the works of RCA students in modern interiors, the shop was called Dunbar Hay Ltd.

Josiah Wedgwood and Sons began their work with Ravilious following his introduction to Victor Skellern, the head Art Director at Wedgwood.

In 1934 Skellern was new to the job at Wedgwood and looking to shake the company up, he had also studied at the RCA.

The introduction was instigated by Kilburn who encouraged established companies to take on young designers to make more interesting products for her shop to sell. Ravilious would also be recommended to Stuart Crystal and much later, the British Cotton Trade Board to do work.

image

 Eric Ravilious – Pen and Wash Design for Garden plate series, 1938

The Garden Implements jug designs by Eric Ravilious for Wedgwood in 1939 saw him once again recycling old works. A year before he was designing a series of tableware called Garden for Wedgwood, in one of the many designs is a small barrel, full of tools, just like from the jug. The plate was issued and the barrel of tools used on the plate as well as on the lid for the teapot.

However when the barrel design is alone on the jug it looks like an illustration from a farmers almanac, much more elegant. The other side of the jug has a series of vignette designs. The Garden Implements jug forms part of a lemonade set. The designs and transfers placed on a stock Wedgwood ‘Liverpool Jug’ shape. Production numbers in 1939 are unknown but a limited number of 250 was produced in 1986 to mark the 50th anniversary of his first employment by Wedgwood in 1936. Below I have outlined the memory bubbles Ravilious used in the vignettes of this 1939 design.

image
image

The Cat
This design as far as I know is an original drawing for the jug, although two years later when asked to make some designs for the British Cotton Board he re-used the design again, though those designs were never printed commercially.

image

 Eric Ravilious – Design on Paper for a child’s handkerchief, 1941

image

The Sunflowers
The drawing of a Sunflower looks like it could have been a watercolour from the re-drawing of the main flower.

image

 Eric Ravilious – Drawing of a Sunflower, c1935

image

The Wheelbarrow
The Wheelbarrow was used in an earlier commission of some months from Wedgwood. The design of the Garden Implement jug, takes the log laden wheelbarrow and empties it for a simpler design.

image

 Eric Ravilious – Design for Garden dinner service, Wedgwood, 1938

image

The Jug
The Jug of Acanthus leafs, a subject for an earlier painting has been drawn with halftone lines as if it was a wood engraving.

image

 Eric Ravilious – Still Life with Acanthus Leaves, 1938

image

The Beehive
The Beehive wood engraving appears in the Country Life Cookery Book in 1937, Ravilious made 12 engravings for the book, one for each month and Ambrose Heath provided the text. Heath also worked with Edward Bawden on cookery books as well.

image

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

image
image

The Fabric
A fabric was made of the jug designs, the commission likely came at the same time as the handkerchief design, pictured above. The commissioner was a young graphic designer (the man who invented the peace sign) working for the British Cotton Board, Gerald Holtom. It was 1941 and Ravilious was now in the War Artists Adversy Scheme, so Holtom went to Eric’s boss, Dickey O’Rourke.

I’ve just had a long visit from a Mr Gerald Holtom who seems very much to want designs for textiles for some Cotton Board. It would make a change to do this for a bit, and he assures me the whole thing is urgent and necessary. Do you know anything of this scheme? I said that it was a good idea which I would do if it were possible. The committee agreed that Eric might in Mr Holtom’s phrase ‘postpone battle at sea for battle in export trade’, and do some experiments in designing textiles †‡

It is as yet unknown by me, if Ravilious intended the Garden Implements design to become a fabric also, but in 1956 the Edinburgh Weavers company did produce a short run of this fabric for commercial sale but how it came about I don’t know. Judging from the amount of recycling of work Ravilious did it wouldn’t surprise me.

The handkerchief above however was designed on paper and with documentation it was for the BCB. In 1989 Alan Powers and his Judd Street Gallery printed a limited run of the handkerchief.

image

 Edinburgh Weavers – Garden Implements design after Eric Ravilious, 1957.

Alan Powers – Eric Ravilious’s Child’s Handkerchief. 1989
Helen Binyon – Eric Ravilious: Memoir of an Artist, 1983
Jeremy Greenwood – Eric Ravilious Wood Engravings, 2008
Robert Harling – Ravilious & Wedgwood, 1986

The Greenhouse & The Garden

While looking into Eric Ravilious’s work for London Transport I noticed how many times a greenhouse would appear in Ravilious’s work.

image

 Eric Ravilious – Kynoch Press Block 112, 1932

There are two curious observations in this post. One is the wood-engraving above, and the one below are the same location; the walled-off greenhouse with decoration on the end of the roof above the glass panes. It is also like the wood-engraving Tea in the Garden, but not quite.

Tirzah, (Ravilious’s wife), was a wonderful wood-engraver and artist in her own right. Below is a man about town in a driving Macintosh laden with marrows, the perfect suburban man.

image

 Tirzah Garwood – The Husband, 1929

Below are two pictures, one, a wood-engraving featured in last week’s post on London Transport, but also a photograph of Tirzah and Eric together at the time of their engagement.

I include it because it’s the second of my observations in this post – the bench they are sitting on is so remarkably similar to the bench in Tea in the Garden that I would say this is the same bench and the inspiration. The back may have curves on the woodcut but I would suggest this is just to make the design more harmonic.

image

 Eric Ravilious – Tea in the Garden, 1936

image

 Tirzah Garwood and Eric Ravilious at the time of their engagement, 1930

Below are a series of beautiful watercolours of greenhouses by Eric Ravilious included because they are so beautiful. It is very hard to walk into any greenhouse and not think of these paintings. They are the skill of perspective but also that skill found in craftsmen, the ability to paint, carve or make a series of objects, in the case of a carpenter it would be stair rods, in Ravilious’s case it is each plant pot and working with the the backdrop of shadow.

image

 Eric Ravilious – The Greenhouse – Cyclamen and Tomatoes, 1935.

image

 Eric Ravilious – Geraniums And Carnations In Greenhouse, 1935

image

 Eric Ravilious – Cucumber House, 1935

image

 Eric Ravilious – The Carnation House, Kew, 1938

A Journey of London Transport with Eric Ravilious

Part of the particular charm of Eric Ravilious’s work is that it is everywhere, I don’t mean on t-towels or mugs, (though regrettably we are at that stage now) it is that his pictures cover scenes that can be found all over Britain. There are many examples where his watercolours could fool you to be a country road you know and pass, until you find it was painted in deepest darkest Sussex and not Northern Essex.

It would surprise no-one then that most of the works he illustrated for London Transport didn’t feature London. The woodcuts made for press adverts and later used on booklets were mostly views from Essex and the village he lived in, Castle Hedingham.

Ravilious and his new wife, the artist and diarist, Tirzah (née Garwood) moved to Bank House in the village in October 1934. It was around the same time that he started an affair with Helen Binyon from 1934-37 – there are a mass of letters between the two to help the writing of this post.

image

 Eric Ravilious – Back Gardens, Castle Hedingham

Green Line Coaches Limited was formed on 9th July 1930 by the London General Omnibus Company, to offer coach services from London to towns up to 30 miles away, comprising 60 vehicles on eight routes. London Transport took the company over in 1933 but kept the name the Green Line.

It was via the Curwen Press that Ravilious was asked to make illustrations for London Transport and the Green Line. They wanted a simple, long, thin wood-engraving. This started a series of wood-engravings that Ravilious would produce for other areas of London Transport.

The order was commissioned on the 20th March 1935. In a letter to Helen Binyon ten days later, Ravilious wrote:

30th March 1935
Green Line Buses would like an advertisement for the Essex scenery – some long narrow engravings, so this job will help to pass the time pleasantly next week. I wish commercial work was all so straightforward so much becomes a compromise between the client’s ideas and what the printer thinks about it and always a hurry for results. These engravings will be fun to do I think. 

image

 Eric Ravilious – Green Line Coach Adverts, 1935

Below is the advert from the original newspaper-sheet, with the news of the day surrounding it. Rather like many adverts of the time there is a quote and a hint at tourism; ‘What hast though to say of Paradise Found?’ and then some information on John

Milton’s home where he completed Paradise Lost.

These remind me of the adverts for Shell Edward Bawden was illustrating at the same time, only these Green Line adverts have a lack of humour in favour of fact. The typography is spot on with dishing out the information, very simple and no fuss. Starting point, times and fares and return journeys, I wish more timetables were like this now.

image

 Eric Ravilious – Advert and wood-engraving in a newspaper, 1935. 

Ravilious was very busy at this point in his life, so it will surprise no-one that he was a great re-cycler of his own work, woodcuts for paid trade work became watercolours for his own exhibitions.

Time would also effect the travelling he could do, so other examples of Ravilious using his local area can be seen by the multi-named Hull’s Mill – Hovis Mill – Maplestead Mill, found in the next village to Castle Hedingham, Sible Hedingham. He would use the building from every angle for a variety of adverts for London Transport from 1935-36.

image

 Eric Ravilious – Hull’s Mill, 1935

In Ravilious’s time the building was known locally as Hull’s Mill but in 1917 it was bought by Hovis who ran it til 1957 and sold it in 1959. Recently, although always considered a part of Sible Hedingham the mill is over the parish line on the Great Maplestead side of the river and is known as Maplestead Mill, located next to Hull’s Farm.

Mechanically it was driven by a water wheel, then after the First World War it was converted to be powered by a turbine and a gas engine and the water mill removed. With the water wheel removed in the painting above you can see the exhaust stack for the turbine and gas apparatus.

image

 Emilie Montgomery Gardner – Hull’s Mill, 1952

Below is the design for the print that Ravilious made of Hull’s Mill, annoying (especially if you are trying to research this) this block is named Hovis Mill, maybe to differentiate it from the watercolour above. It is a larger woodblock for Ravilious and this maybe why he engraved the mill in triptych style. In a letter to Helen Binyon Eric notes:

8 November 1935
…The block is much too big. It is one I happened to have so feel I should use it all. 

image

 Eric Ravilious – Design in Pencil for Hovis Mill, 1935

In another letter to Helen Binyon Ravilious writes:

The Mill drawings are going fairly well and may finish themselves one day. It is an extraordinarily attractive place – a bit like this. 

Ravilious illustrated this letter to Binyon and a drawing of the mill and last part of the letter are pictured below.

image

 Eric Ravilious – Design on part of a letter to Helen Binyon, 1935

When living at Brick House with Edward and Charlotte Bawden, Tirzah’s uncle made Eric and her a canoe, it maybe why Eric put one in the Hovis woodcut below. The Paddle can be see in the painting The Attic Bedroom, Brick House. The river behind Hull’s Mill is also one of the widest parts of river in the area, being cut wider from when the Mill had a water wheel, and still is free from weeds.

image

 Eric Ravilious – The Attic Bedroom, Brick House, 1934

image

 Eric Ravilious – Hovis Mill, 1935

image

 A set of views of the Mill today, 2018

Ravilious would go on to cut the mill in another block using the same design again, this time without the canoe as in the Hovis wood-engraving, but with the horse grazing in the field like the above letter to Binyon. In this wood-engraving this time called Pony by a Mill. Below is the study for his wood-block design, squared off and ready for engraving.

image

 Eric Ravilious – Drawing for Pony by a Mill wood-block, 1936

image

 Eric Ravilious – Two Cows / Pony by a Mill, 1936

image

 Cover for Country Walks, 2nd Series with a Ravilious Design of Pony by a Mill.

Above is the print Pony by a Mill with the edges chamfered off in use on one of the London Transport booklets, originally printed in 1936. The 3rd series would also feature the Two Cows wood engraving below.

The Country Walk books were by Charles White and printed for London Transport to show people the possibilities of using the train and bus network. Inside they had maps and planned walks showing how to get to the locations and the sights one might see.

image

 Eric Ravilious – Two Cows / Pony by a Mill, 1936

The two images were engraved on the same block of wood and printed together as one proof. On the left a cow and a bull in a field, separated by a stone wall.

Below is the original drawing on tracing paper for Two Cows, reversed in design as a woodblock always prints backwards.

image

 Eric Ravilious – Two Cows, preliminary study for a woodcut, 1936

The pencil design and wood-engraving again would be re-cycled into another watercolour, Two Cows. Here keeping the study of a cow in the same pose, now doubled in pose, but this time with the perspective of a barn door to fix the eyes attention.

image

 Eric Ravilious – Two Cows, 1936, The Fry Gallery

image

 1936 cover to Country Walks, 3rd Series with a Ravilious Design of Two Cows.

image

 Eric Ravilious – Vicarage in Winter, 1935

Another work with the creativity sparked in Castle Hedingham is the Vicarage in Winter 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.

This water colour 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 woman cutting the hedge with the path leading up to a V shaped Sussex style stile are pictured – but it is the wall and hedge in Vicarage in Winter that bind them together as the same location.

image

 Eric Ravilious – Cutting The Hedge, 1936

The V Stile also appeared in the Kynoch Press Notebook for 1933. The 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.

image

 Eric Ravilious – Kynoch Press Block 121, 1932

Below is the press advert, the text in the advert talks of the clean breeze of the downs and how you can see Lions at Whipsnade Zoo.

image

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

Another design is the Suburban Home with the man in top hat and umbrella standing in the doorway, much like the men are in the watercolour of Hull’s Mill.

image

 Eric Ravilious – Suburban Home, 1936

The house turns out to be the Old Vicarage in Castle Hedingham, the same in 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. Below is the engraving in the advert as it would appear in the press.

image

 The Old Vicarage in Castle Hedingham as it is now.

image

 Eric Ravilious – Suburban Home as part of a Newspaper advert, 1936

With the Two Swans as others, a watercolour followed like the Two Cows watercolour, though the figures are similar, they have no relation to the backgrounds of each other.

image

 Eric Ravilious – Two Swans, 1936

image

 Eric Ravilious – Two Swans, 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.

image

 Eric Ravilious – The Shepard, 1936

image

 Eric Ravilious – The Shepard as part of a Green Line Advert, 1936

image

 Eric Ravilious – Tea in the Garden, 1936

The last stop on these London Underground travels is of Tea in the Garden. It is a rather abstract design but it was the start of the commuter lifestyle as London was building a new wave of suburbia and you can imagine the print being used with slogans like “home in time for tea” or “enjoy the garden, 20 mins from the city by bus”.

image

 Eric Ravilious – Sketch for Tea in the Garden, 1936

image

 Eric Ravilious – Tea in the Garden as part of a Green Line Advert, 1936

Soon after Ravilious reused the design for a commission with Wedgwood, he was so busy during this point that many designs were recycled from wood engravings to watercolours or china. Below you can see a sketch drawing for a teapot design using the woodblock above. Carving out the legs of the bench and inverting the colours of the table so when printed the transfer will be black and an enamel colour wash painted over.

image

 Eric Ravilious – Sketched idea for Teapot design, 1938

The finished design below, with the colouring in yellow, blue and green. The design has been made simpler and the shading is able to be more subtle as it will be printed on a metal plate, so there is more detail in the halftone lines. It was first used on a preserve jar for Wedgwood.

image

 Eric Ravilious – Printed and Enamelled design from Wedgwood, 1938

The preserve jar was introduced six months in advance of the rest of the pattern. The design was advertised in 1939 as being available also in breakfast and coffee sets; the war prevented production of these. At first unnamed, later called ‘Teaset’, the design was finally named ‘Afternoon Tea’.

image

 Eric Ravilious – The Final Jampot by Wedgwood using Ravilious’s Design, 1938

Ravilious – Engravings by Jeremy Greenwood, Wood Lea Press, 2008.
Ravilious & Wedgwood by Robert Harling, 1995.
Away We Go by Oliver Green and Alan Powers, 2006 
 Eric Ravilious: Memoir of an Artist by Helen Binyon, 1983
Ravilious: The Watercolours by James Russell, 2015