Permits and passes used by Eric Ravilious during World War Two form part of a new showcase of the artist’s watercolours, currently wowing audiences at Dulwich Picture Gallery, in south London.
Ravilious, who grew up in Eastbourne and was inspired in his early work by the beauty of the South Downs, was appointed by the British Government as a war artist in 1940.
The permits and passes, usually held at The Keep archive centre in Moulsecoomb, gave him access to restricted areas so he could record and sketch weapons, machinery, personnel and preparations for war.
Ravilious died aged just 39 in an air rescue mission over Iceland in 1942. His archive of personal documents, letters and postcards was deposited at the East Sussex Record Office by his family in 2006.
Elizabeth Hughes, East Sussex county archivist, said: “Eric Ravilious is a hugely significant figure in the cultural heritage of East Sussex and this landmark exhibition is bringing his work to a new audience.
“We are very excited to have been able to loan these poignant documents to such an exciting showcase, and one which has already received critical acclaim.”
Ravilious’ family moved to Eastbourne shortly after his birth in 1903 and he was educated at Eastbourne Grammar School, before studying at Eastbourne School of Art and the Royal College of Art.
He is recognised as a leading figure in the 20th century revival of English watercolour painting and is also known for his wood engraving and designs for Wedgwood pottery.
The exhibition includes 28 Ravilious works donated by the Towner gallery, in Eastbourne, including two of his most popular and iconic paintings depicting the landscape he loved, ‘Downs In Winter’ and ‘Cuckmere Haven’.
The Towner holds the largest collection of works by the artist, many of which are displayed in its dedicated Ravilious Room.
The exhibition, entitled simply ‘Ravilious’, runs at Dulwich Picture Gallery until Monday, August 31 2015. More information is available online at www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk