Ravilious, Eric (1903-1942), 'Introductory Lithograph', Lithograph, 1941

'Introductory Lithograph', Lithograph, 1941

Please Note: This item is not for sale.
Paper trimmed to the image. The first image in the set of ten lithographs in the ‘Submarine’ series. Drawn by Ravilious in his studio and printed at Ravilious’s own expense at the Studio of W. S. Cowell, Ipswich. The proposed edition was 50 impressions but it is likely this was unfulfilled.

In early February 1940, Eric Ravilious and Paul Nash, his former Royal College of Art teacher, were amongst two of the first official war artists to be appointed by the War Artists Advisory Council. Ravilious was assigned to the Admiralty and awarded the rank of Captain. Initially posted in Chatham, he proceeded to Sheerness and then Grimsby and Scapa Flow, eventually sailing to the Artic Circle on the HMS Highlander. He returned to England in July that year and was based at Portsmouth and Gosport, it was here that he had his first experiences on a submarine. In an account of his experiences that Ravilious sent to the War Artists Advisory Council he wrote:

‘Its awfully hot below when submarines dive and every compartment small and full of people at work. However, this is a change from destroyers and I enjoy the state of complete calm after the North Sea - there is no roll or movement at all in submarines, which is one condition in their favour - apart from the peculiar submarine smell, the heat and the noise. There is something jolly good about it, if only I can manage it, a blue gloom with coloured lights and everyone in shirt and braces. People go to sleep in odd positions across tables.’

Initially the ‘Submarine’ series was proposed in early 1940 and envisaged as a portfolio of six lithographs of war subjects, notably submarines. Ravilious obtained an estimate to produce an edition of 50 from the Curwen Press but the War Artists Advisory Council were unable to commit the necessary funds and the project was put on hold. Ravilious eventually published the project himself in 1941 working with the Ipswich printers W. S. Cowell. Publishing the works himself allowed him greater scope for the project, thus the increased number of works.

In this lithograph we see the submurged submarine. Below, a hand is poised, pencil at the ready, over a page of sketches of an anchor, compass, diving helmet and hydroplane operator as well as the gun tower of an L-class submarine with an open hatch.

Image & Paper Size 27.5 x 31.5 cm
Collections Fry Art Gallery; Imperial War Museum; V& A
Literature Webb, Brian, ‘Eric Ravilious Submarine Dream Lithographs and Letters’, Camberwell Press, 1996; Carey & Griffiths, ‘Avant Garde British Printmaking 1914- 1960’, British Museum Publications, 1990, pp. 144-147; Russell, James, ‘Ravilious Submarine’, Mainstone Press, 2013, pp. 52-53

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