Public appeal launched to help find lost watercolours of Eric Ravilious

Eric Ravilious
Eric Ravilious

Check the corners of the attic, scour the bootsales or go behind grandma’s sofa - maybe you’ll find a lost painting by Eastbourne’s most celebrated artist.

Eric Ravilious, now one of the best known British artists of the 20th century, produced a remarkable number of watercolours in a career cut short by his untimely death in 1942 while serving as an official war artist.

Over 250 of these watercolours are known, but it is believed that around 40 are lying undiscovered or uncatalogued.

As visitors to the Towner Gallery’s hugely popular recent exhibition of his work will know, Ravilious (1903–1942) is acknowledged as a painter of rare talent. Recently, he has become one of the most widely admired British artists of the 20th century and his work more instantly recognisable for his distinct design.

As a student at the Royal College of Art, Ravilious was taught by Paul Nash; his contemporaries include Edward Bawden, Edward Burra and Henry Moore.

Ravilious went on to work as a painter, wood engraver, lithographer and designer throughout the 1920s and 1930s. He died aged 39 whilst serving his country during WW2.

The Hedingham Press aims to publish the definitive catalogue of Ravilious’s watercolours, and is launching a public appeal to find those ‘lost’ watercolours.

James Russell, an expert on Ravilious watercolours who founded The Hedingham Press along with British art specialist Gordon Cooke, and designer Robert Dalrymple, said: “They might be held in private collections – even, possibly, public collections – in the UK, Canada, Australia or New Zealand. Ravilious spent his last days in Iceland, so that is also a possibility. We do believe they are out there – our mission is to find and catalogue all of the Ravilious watercolours in the world and produce the definitive book featuring them. We are appealing to anyone who has – or think they might have – a ‘lost’ Ravilious watercolour to get in touch and help us complete this ambitious project.”

The aim is for Eric Ravilious: The Complete Water­colours to be published in 2019. Anyone with information is asked email to raviliouscatalogue@gmail.com.