Eric Ravilious, ‘Beachy Head Lighthouse (Belle Tout)’ watercolour and pencil on paper, 1939.
‘Although known as a landscape painter, Ravilious produced a good proportion of his work indoors, and he had an eye for an interesting interior that few artists have rivalled. He worked in several greenhouses and in a butcher’s shop, in an RNAS sickbay and a farmhouse bedroom. In his quiet, good-humoured way he easily persuaded the owners or occupiers of building to let him set up his easel, and so it was that he escaped the fierce breezes of Beachy Head for the calm of the Belle Tout lantern room.’
‘Just now I am busy on the hills painting,’ he wrote to his friend Diana Tuely, ‘in the greatest comfort with my jacket off, and seated in a magnificent Chinese chair. That is to say I am perched in the top of the Belle Tout lighthouse (I wish you could see this) in the lantern drawing the immense expanse below with a gale blowing outside’.
James Russell is an art historian, curator and author with a special interest in 20th/21st century British artists, and has published a number of books on the art of Eric Ravilious, including Ravilious, Ravilious in Pictures 1: Sussex and the Downs, Ravilious in Pictures 2: The War Paintings, Ravilious in Pictures 3: A Country Life, Ravilious in Pictures 4: A Travelling Artist, and Ravilious: Submarine, the last five of which are published by the Mainstone Press. James can be found on Twitter, Instagram, and also presides over a rather good blog.