Eric Ravilious, 1903-1942


Tempera on plywood, 1930

Eric Ravilious studied under Paul Nash with his close friend Edward Bawden at the Royal College of Art and the older artist imbued a love of the English landscape in his pupils. These panels decorated the door of Sir Geoffrey Fry's Music Room in Portman Square, London. Ravilious based the tennis court on the Manor Gardens at Eastbourne. He treated the panels as a continuous composition, with the game's progress and the players' gestures linking the three parts. There is a sense of detachment in it, as well as a hint of the mysterious or Surreal. "I like definite shapes," Ravilious once wrote, and this picture shows this with its flattened forms, hard lines, and doll-like figures. Ravilious attempted to combine the use of perspective with his interest in early Renaissance painting from the 1400s.

Presented by Sir Geoffrey and the Hon Lady Fry, 1945