‘Missing’ Eric Ravilious painting loaned to East Sussex gallery

A ‘radiant watercolour’ thought missing and last displayed in public more than 80 years ago is to go on show in Hastings.

Tuesday, 25th May 2021, 12:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 1st June 2021, 9:56 am
Mackerel Sky by Eric Ravilious, which was sold in 1939. Photograph: Hastings Contemporary

Mackerel Sky by celebrated British artist Eric Ravilious who grew up in East Sussex, is said to have been sold in 1939 by art dealer Arthur Tooth and Sons to a private collector – a year after it was created – for 15 guineas.

The current owner has loaned the painting to Hastings Contemporary, on Rock-a-Nore Road, for its Seaside Modern: Art and Life on the Beach exhibition.

The exhibition, which looks at the links between artists and the beach from the 1920s to 1970s, will start on Thursday (May 27) when the gallery reopens following the latest easing of restrictions.

On social media, a spokesperson for the gallery said it was ‘delighted’ to share the ‘exciting news’.

Adding: “This radiant watercolour was for many years thought to be missing, when it was in fact hanging quietly in a collector’s home since 1939 when it was sold for 15 guineas by Arthur Tooth and Sons.”

“Mackerel Sky belongs to a private collector, who very generously loaned it to the exhibition Seaside Modern when hearing of the curator’s search for Ravilious works.”

Art historian and curator James Russell who is guest curating the exhibition said on Twitter that it was ‘exciting news for Ravilious fans’, adding that ‘this 1938 gem Mackerel Sky was considered missing for years but has now resurfaced and will feature in my exhibition’.

Ravilious, who studied at Eastbourne School of Art, served as a war artist during the Second World War and is known for his watercolours of the South Downs and other English landscapes.

In 1942, aged 39, he accompanied a Royal Air Force rescue mission off Iceland that did not return and was declared missing in action.