In the art world, £327 pounds is loose change. As a bookseller it's a sizeable chunk of my salary, but when I discovered that a limited edition print of Eric Ravilious' painting Chalk Paths was on sale, I had to buy it. This is a rare picture that succeeds in capturing both the spiritual and visual qualities of the South Downs and anyone who knows the area will recognise the dark greens and greys of the Sussex winter. Compare this picture with another depiction of the Downs:
And it is the difference between art and illustration. Ravilious was arguably one of the greatest British artists of the inter-war years and if his life hadn't ended prematurely, I'm sure that he would be a household name (in Hampstead, at least).
I first discovered Eric Ravilious in the Towner Gallery at Eastbourne, where I went to see an exhibition of original Ladybird illustrations. As soon as I saw his paintings, I knew that I had found a kindred spirit and spent the next few years searching for anything I could find about Ravilious.
Today there is a growing Ravilious cult. He is one of those word-of-mouth figures (like Nick Drake 20 years ago) who has a devoted following and it is only a matter of time before he becomes as well-known as Paul Nash and Henry Moore.
To return to Chalk Paths, there is a piece of music that complements Ravilious' watercolour: the Pastoral Symphony by Alan Rawsthorne. If you play the last movement of the symphony and look at the painting, there is a striking sympatico between the two.