Exploring painter Eric Ravilious’ (1903-1942) fascination for the chalk downlands of Wiltshire and Sussex, Wiltshire Museum are borrowing over 20 artworks from major national museums to bring his evocative work back to the place it was inspired by.
The show will appeal to art lovers across the country and local people who love the iconic landscapes. A range of exquisite watercolours have been lent by Tate, V&A, the Imperial War Museum, British Museum, National Museum of Wales and Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne, as well as private lenders.
Central to the exhibition are Ravilious’ best-loved watercolours of chalk figures, made in 1939 in preparation for a children’s book, Downland Man. The book was never completed, and for many years the prototype or ‘dummy’ made by Ravilious was believed lost. When it resurfaced in 2012 this precious relic was bought at auction by Wiltshire Museum. Although never published, it contains delicate pencil drawings of chalk hill figures, ancient monuments and prehistoric earthworks in Wiltshire.
The exhibition is masterminded by guest curator James Russell, who created the successful Ravilious exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in 2015. He has also written an illustrated catalogue to accompany this exhibition.