Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Eric Ravilious: Newt Pond


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In the papers this weekend... Eric Ravilious, ‘Newt Pond’ 1932 - I wrote a note on this watercolour for @christiesinc: This beautifully preserved watercolour was one of those shown by Eric Ravilious in November 1933, in his inaugural one-man exhibition at the Zwemmer Gallery on Charing Cross Road, London. Listed as number eight in the catalogue, it is dated ‘June 32’, making it one of the earliest works in the show. At the time Ravilious was working feverishly alongside his friend and fellow artist Edward Bawden, as the pair strove to fulfil their shared ambition of reinventing the English watercolour tradition. When not teaching in London they retreated with their wives, Tirzah and Charlotte, to the Bawdens’ house in Great Bardfield, Essex. This was a particularly happy time for the two couples, as - so far unencumbered by children - they enjoyed the space and freedom of country living. Ravilious wrote very few letters, suggesting that his attention was focused fully on the here and now, and in particular on the tricky business of painting watercolours. That he experimented widely is clear from the pictures displayed at Zwemmer, which vary in technique from subtle tinted drawings to works painted freely in a bold palette, and in subject from sunlit landscapes to abandoned vehicles. Here we see the distinctive half-hipped barn which stands beside the orchard at Beslyns, a secluded, picturesque settlement close to Great Bardfield where Bawden also liked to work. Ravilious has taken the scene before him and reconfigured it to create a witty design that balances reality and reflection, with a tall tree on the left creating a good vertical anchor and foliage represented in a variety of ways. Particularly delightful are the billows of young leaves bursting from the branches of apple trees. Like the garden trees in Prospect from an Attic (Scarborough Museums Trust), an important work from the same year, these are so full of life they seem to be dancing. Happy days, indeed. . #ericravilious #ravilious #edwardbawden #greatbardfield #essex #pond #newtpond #art #watercolor #watercolour #modernbritishart #countryside #1930s
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