Eric Ravilious – “Anyone for tennis?”

The panels of this triptych decorated the door of Sir Geoffrey Fry’s Music Room in Portman Court, London. Fry served as private secretary to Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin from 1923 until 1939. The commission followed on from the successful completion of the Morley College murals by Ravilious, Edward Baldwin and Charles Mahoney in 1928 – unveiled by Baldwin in February 1930.

Ravilious based the tennis court on the Manor Gardens at Eastbourne and treated the panels as a continuous composition, with the game’s progress and the players’ gestures linking the three parts. Newspaper photographs of tennis players helped to create the mural figures.  A Tirzah-like figure exits the left-hand panel.

Tennis player torn from a newspaper Sir Geoffrey Fry’s Music Room

Another ‘tennis commission’ came as ER was chosen to create a mural for the Sports Section of the British Pavilion at the International Exhibition of Arts and Crafts in Modern Life, Paris 1937. Painted on large panels at Bank House, Castle Hedingham, where Tirzah and ER moved in 1934, a young RCA student John O’Connor (see below) helped to paint the panels in watercolour, the medium for the display.

Sketches for the Paris mural. A photograph by Norman Parkinson – “Eric Ravilious Preparing his Tennis Model.”

Poster for the 1937 Fair Night view of the Palais de l’air An overview of the Pavilion with the Sports section on the left of the picture

Graham Bennison

Eric Ravilious and Friends……..

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