‘Look at the detail in this painting: the upholstery so carefully and sensitively realised; the window strap that is clearly made of leather and not some artificial material; the window fittings and the striped draught strips. The interior of the railway compartment is so beautifully drawn, with such clarity, that it is not difficult to imagine leaning back on that not-very-comfortable seat or tugging at the stubborn window strap. And yet all this life would not come to life on the paper were it not for an overarching imprecision.
‘Put crudely, the picture is crooked. On the right hand side the seat cushions intrude awkwardly. The top edge of the painting cuts across a vent. With so much available, the white horse has barely made it into the frame at all. It’s as if someone noticed the chalk figure, grabbed the camera and – as the landmark slid by amid anguished cries of “Hurry up! You’ll miss it!” – focused briefly and pressed the shutter. The effect is spontaneous; the moment lives.’
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.
‘Train Landscape’ is included in ‘Ravilious Collection Pt.1‘.