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Eric William Ravilious (22 July 1903 - 2 September 1942) was an Englishmarker painter, designer, book illustrator and wood engraver.

Early life

Ravilious was born 22 July, 1903 in Actonmarker, Londonmarker.


Ravilious studied at Eastbourne School of Art, and at the Royal College of Artmarker, where he studied under Paul Nash and became close friends with Edward Bawden.

He began his working life as a muralist, first coming to notice as an artist in 1924. He went on to become one of the best-known artists of the 1930s. His watercolours, painted with a fine stippling technique within compositions that give light or dark features a telling role, are thought by some to have an almost uncanny loveliness. He was the leading light of wood-engraving in Englandmarker at that time, and undertook ceramic designs for Wedgwood. He also designed graphics for London Transport.

He was inspired by the landscape of the South Downsmarker around Beddinghammarker. He frequently returned to Furlongs, the cottage of Peggy Angus. He considered that his time at Furlongs "...altered my whole outlook and way of painting, I think because the colour of the landscape was so lovely and the design so beautifully obvious ... that I simply had to abandon my tinted drawings". Some of his most famous works, such as Tea at Furlongs, were painted there.

He produced a woodcut of two Victorian gentlemen playing cricket, which has appeared on the front cover of each edition of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack from 1938 to the current day.


Ravilious was an official war artist in World War II and received a commission as a Captain in the Royal Marines. He was killed in 1942 at the age of 39 while accompanying a Royal Air Force air sea rescue mission off Icelandmarker that failed to return to its base.


Although Ravilious's work was neglected for many years after the war, a major retrospective exhibition was staged by The Imperial War Museummarker in 2004.

Original prints by Ravilious are difficult to find and only original lithographs from the book High Street printed by Curwen Press in 1938 are occasionally found today; this wonderful series comprises 24 views of shops which were to be found on High Streets of the time; none of these original lithographs was ever signed.

The collected edition of all the Ravilious woodcuts of 1972, also printed by Curwen Press, contains photolitho reproductions of the original prints. The carved blocks were largely destroyed and the few that remained were considered to be too fragile to print from.

Ravilious engraved more than four hundred illustrations and drew over forty lithographic designs for books and publications during his lifetime.

Personal life

For much of his life, Ravilious lived in Eastbournemarker, where he is commemorated by a blue plaque on the wall of his childhood home.

He married Eileen Lucy "Tirzah" Garwood (1908-1951) in 1930. Tirzah Garwood was also a noted artist and engraver. Between 1930 and 1932 the couple lived in Hammersmithmarker, London, where there is a blue plaque on the wall of their house at the corner of Upper Mall and Weltje Road.

In 1932 Eric and Tirzah moved to rural Essex, where they initially lodged with Edward Bawden at Great Bardfieldmarker. In 1934 they purchased Bank House at Castle Hedinghammarker, and a blue plaque now commemorates this.

Ravilious had three children: the writer and inventor John Ravilious; the noted English photographer James Ravilious; and Anne Ullmann, editor of books on her parents and their work.

In 1946, four years after Eric Ravilious's death, his widow married Henry Swanzy.

Further reading

  • Alan Powers, Oliver Green. Away We Go! Advertising London's Transport: Eric Ravilious & Edward Bawden (2006)
  • Alan Powers. Eric Ravilious: Imagined Realities (2004)
  • Freda Constable. The England of Eric Ravilious (2003)
  • Richard Morphet. Eric Ravilious in Context (2002)
  • Submarine dream: Lithographs and letters (1996)
  • Robert Harling. Ravilious and Wedgwood: The Complete Wedgwood Designs of Eric Ravilious (1995)
  • Helen Binyon. Eric Ravilious. Memoir of an Artist; The Lutterworth Press 2007, Cambridge; ISBN 9780718829209
  • R. Dalrymple. Ravilious and Wedgewood, London 1986
  • Eric Ravilious, 1903-42: A Re-assessment of his Life and Work (exh. cat. by P. Andrew, Eastbourne Towner A.G. & Local History Museum (1986)
  • J. M. Richards. The Wood Engravings of Eric Ravilious, London 1972
  • Alan Powers, James Russell. Eric Ravilious: The Story of High Street (2008)
  • Anne Ullmann (ed.) Ravilious at war : the complete work of Eric Ravilious, September 1939 - September 1942, contributions from Barry and Saria Viney, Christopher Whittick and Simon Lawrence, foreword by Brian Sewell. Huddersfield, Fleece, (2002) ISBN 0948375701
  • James Russell, Ravilious in Pictures: Sussex and the Downs (edited by Tim Mainstone), Mainstone Press, Norwich (2009); ISBN 9780955277733


  1. CWGC :: Casualty Details
  2. "DESIGN", by Edward Bawden, Published by Antique Collector's Club, Woodbridge, England, ISBN 1 85149 500 2

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