Eric William Ravilious

British, b.1903, d.1942

Doctor Faustus Conjuring Mephistophilis

  • 1929
  • Wood engraving
  • Presented by Rex Nan Kivell, 1953
  • 260 x 215mm
  • 94/127

Eric Ravilious was an extremely talented artist and designer who excelled at numerous artistic mediums, including wood engraving. He was a prolific illustrator for the private press movement, and produced many titles under the much- admired Golden Cockerel Press imprint thanks to his close friendship with Robert Gibbings (who at one point owned the press). Ravilious was no purist, however, shifting with ease between the worlds of high art and commercial design.

Alongside his stunning wood engravings, he was happy to design transfer illustrations for china and even furniture. Decoration to ‘Five Eyes’ was based on the poem ‘Five Eyes’ by Walter de la Mare and was used to illustrate a piano music roll, while Doctor Faustus conjuring Mephistophilis was to be used as an illustration for a Golden Cockerel Press book, Christopher Marlowe’s Dr Faustus, which unfortunately went unpublished.

The Golden Age 18 December 2015 – 1 May 2016

Exhibition History

earlier labels about this work
  • Ravilious was a prolific illustrator and worked predominantly with wood engravings. The subject for this work relates to the 16th century medical practitioner, Dr. Johannes Faust who, legend has it, sold his soul to Mephistopheles, an evil spirit. Ravilious received a scholarship to the Royal College of Art in 1922. Through his friendship with Paul Nash, a tutor at the College, Ravilious was introduced to the Society of Wood Engravers, with whom he began to exhibit. He also became a friend of Robert Gibbings who ran the Golden Cockerel Press and commissioned Ravilious to illustrate a number of their publications. (Label date unknown)