1:01pm Monday 2nd July 2012
Vigorous applause from a packed audience was evidence enough of the calibre of the museum lecture last Thursday by James Russell on the artist Eric Ravilious.
Even the shortcomings of the town hall microphones failed to dampen enthusiasm.
Eric Ravilious (1903-1942) was a leading artist of the 1920s. He captured the essence of English landscape, particularly the chalk downs of southern England with a style typified by lines.
The White Horse at Westbury was shown iconically in the frame of a third class railway carriage.
Not long ago that chalk figure was described by locals as The Old Grey Mare; it had become stained by dust from the nearby cement works.
James Russell led us through the Ravilious range of watercolours, wood engravings, ceramic designs for Wedgewood and graphics for London Transport.
His woodcut of Victorian gentlemen playing cricket has graced the cover of Wisden from 1938 to this day.
As a War Artist he served with the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force and was killed, aged 29, off Iceland when an air-sea rescue mission failed to return.
It was assumed for decades that a Puffin book he was illustrating went down with him; but not so.
Wiltshire Museum has purchased that lost book by Eric Ravilious and is anxious for donations. It may be seen at the exhibition, open until July 29.
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