Newhaven Harbour
A Contemporary Lithograph by Eric Ravilious 1937

Eric Ravilious (1903-1942)
The artist, illustrator and designer, Eric Ravilious, was one of the most distinctive image makers of the inter-war period in Britain.
Ravilious has a popular following based on the appreciation of his technical abilities.
His images also appeal through powerful feelings of memory and place.
Raviious grew up in Eastbourne, so the area of down land and coast was familiar to him form an early age.

The 1930s were a precarious decade for artists. The austerity associated with economic depression caused the collapse of
many markets and forced artists to seek new markets through the embrace of new processes of image making.
Ravilious was one of a group of artists at the fore-front of this activity. Aside form his painting, Ravilious made many
successful designs for clients in wood-engraving and printmaking.

Ravilious was able to apply his technical skill as a watercolourist to the challenges of printmaking.
This allowed him to achieve kind of eye-catching and luminous sparkle in his designs. You can see this in the shadow effects and cross-hatching of
Newhaven harbour.

Contemporary Lithographs
In 1937, the artist John Piper and the publisher Robert Wellington, of Zwemmer's Gallery, London, launched a series of large-format
coloured prints by British artists. The venture was an attempt to serve a new market for bigger coloured prints. These were judged to be
more suitable for the scale and spaces of modern architecture.
The prints were produced using lithography, which facilitated scale and colour.
A second series of prints was produced in 1939. The success of the venture was cut short by the advent of WW2.

Maritime Nostalgia - Newhaven Harbour
The harbour at Newhaven was familiar to Ravilious through its proximity to Eastbourne and the South Downs. The
harbour provided a passenger service to French port of Dieppe. This continental connection would have given Newhaven an unlikely
glamour and sophistication in relation to its coastal neighbours. The appeal to continental glamour is not explicit it is rendered in the clarity of light
and the sharpness of detail. Ravilous returned frequently to the subject matter of harbours and ships. Quite apart from the evident appeal of
maritime architecture - in the form of both buildings and ships - Ravilious seems to have responded to slightly melancholy feelings of maritime nostalgia.

The combination of sunlight and sadness evident in Newhaven Harbour seems, to our eyes, especially poignant...

Paul & Karen Rennie
March 2014