Eric Ravilious (1903-1942):
Study for ‘Leaving Scapa Flow’ (recto); ‘The Firth of Forth’ (verso), circa 1940–41
Framed (ref: 2594)
Watercolour over pencil
171/4 x 23 in. (43.7 x 58.5 cm)
Provenance: Artist’s family until 2005; private collection.
Exhibited: Eastbourne Towner Art Gallery, extended loan; The Twentieth Century,
The Fine Art Society, London, October 2005 (cat. no. 24).
Literature:Anne Ullmann (ed.), Ravilious atWar,The Fleece Press, Upper Denby, Huddersfield, 2002, illus. p. 101, no. 50. WW2 - War Pictures by British Artists, Edited by Sacha Llewellyn & Paul Liss, July 2016, FIG. 2, page 46.
During WW2 Ravilious was employed as a Ministry of Information artist specialising in Admiralty topics
Scapa Flow is a body of water in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, and was the site of Britain’s chief naval base during the SecondWorldWar . Churchill ordered the construction of a series of causeways to block the eastern approaches after Scapa Flow was penetrated by German submarine U-47 in October 1939.
Ravilious refers to Leaving Scapa Flow in a letter to E.M.O’R. Dickey on 20 June 1940, as one of a series of watercolours intended for exhibition, probably for a war-effort show at the National Gallery, London, organised by the Artists’Advisory Committee (see Anne Ullmann [ed.], Ravilious atWar, Upper Denby 2002, p. 99).The finished watercolour is in the collection of Cartwright Hall, Bradford.
In July 1941, again attached to the Admiralty as an OfficialWar Artist, Ravilious painted on the Isle of May, in Scotland, near the Firth of Forth.Weekly east coast convoys formed there to make their hazardous voyages down to Sheerness in Kent.The Forth Bridge here is shown protected by Barrage Balloons. Ravilious was killed on 2 September 1942, accompanying a Royal Air Force air–sea rescue mission off Iceland.