Essex gains two important artworks with the help of art charity

  • 20 August 2008

Artworks by celebrated Essex-based artists Keith Vaughan (1912-1977) and Eric Ravilious (1903-1942) are now in the collection of Fry Art Gallery in Saffron Walden thanks to help from The Art Fund, the UK's leading independent art charity.

The Art Fund, which is funded entirely by its 80,000 members and public donations, gave Fry Art Gallery £7,000 to help it acquire Vaughan’s abstract oil painting Harrow on the Hill III and a further £7,000 for Ravilious’s watercolour Demonstrating a Machine Gun. The total cost of the paintings was £35,000 and £24,000 respectively.

Vaughan – who is regarded as one of the greatest British artists of the mid 20th Century – lived and worked in North West Essex for the last 13 years of his life; Harrow Hill was his home at Topplesfield in Essex.

Ravilious’s Demonstrating a Machine Gun, which depicts a scene at RAF Sawbridgeworth about 15 miles from Saffron Walden, was unfinished at the time of his death in September 1942. An official war artist, he was killed whilst accompanying a Royal Air Force mission to Iceland.

Founded in 1985, Fry Art Gallery’s purpose is to collect the work of major 20th Century North West Essex artists with a strong connection to the area. The Gallery has built an extensive collection of artwork including work by Eric Ravilious but until now had no works by Keith Vaughan – which the Gallery believed was a major omission.

David Barrie, Director of The Art Fund, said: “Harrow on the Hill III is a beautiful abstract painting of an Essex landscape by one of the leading artists of his generation. Its acquisition makes excellent sense for Fry Art Gallery and I am delighted that The Art Fund was able to help them secure this very fine work.

“Ravilious’s watercolours are loved for their insouciant charm and this work is particularly interesting as it gives an insight into his technique. It is also one of his last works before his tragic death. Its acquisition complements the other works by Ravilious in the Gallery’s collection, which have also been acquired with the help of The Art Fund.”

Nigel Weaver, Chairman of Fry Art Gallery said: “Once again, the trustees of Fry Art Gallery are grateful to The Art Fund for making it possible for us to acquire important works. As a volunteer-run, independent gallery with no funding from any external body, it would be impossible to refresh and improve the Collection entirely from our own resources.”

Both Harrow on the Hill III and Demonstrating a Machine Gun are on permanent display at the Fry Art Gallery. Additional funding of £19,000 for Keith Vaughan’s work and £11,000 for the Eric Ravilious came from the Heritage Lottery Fund, with the balance from Fry Art Gallery’s own acquisitions fund.


Notes to editors

1. The Art Fund is the UK’s leading independent art charity. It offers grants to help UK museums and galleries enrich their collections; campaigns on behalf of museums and their visitors; and promotes the enjoyment of art.

2. It is entirely funded from public donations and has 80,000 members. Since 1903 the charity has helped museums and galleries all over the UK secure 860,000 works of art for their collections.

3. Recent achievements include: helping secure Anthony d’Offay’s collection, ARTIST ROOMS, for Tate and National Galleries of Scotland in February 2008 with a grant of £1million; putting together a unique funding package to ensure Dumfries House in Ayrshire and its contents were secured intact for the nation in July 2007; and running the ‘Buy a Brushstroke’ public appeal which raised over £550,000 to keep Turner’s Blue Rigi watercolour in the UK.

4.For more information contact the Press Office on 020 7225 4888 or visit