High Street by Eric Ravilious


High Street by Eric Ravilious is the rare illustrated book about shops that contains the twenty-four famous hand-drawn lithographs by Eric Ravilious.


High Street by Eric Ravilious

High Street by Eric Ravilious (1903-1942) has become one of the most highly regarded artist’s books of its time.

High Street is an illustrated book about shops which contains the twenty-four hand-drawn lithographs that Eric Ravilious produced to celebrate these distinctly visual features of Britain in the 1930s.

Shops have always been a central part of British life, they form the centre of our villages, towns and cities. They brighten our streets and entice us with their colour, display and choice of things to buy. Eric Ravilious was already a successful artist, illustrator and designer when he was struck by the beauty of these shops and began to float the idea of a book about shops to his friends, publishers and printers.

High Street was slow to evolve as a project. Ravilious had been working with the Curwen Press in London; an innovative printing company that was encouraging and enabling artists to master the beauty of lithography as an art form. As he worked with the craft printers at Curwen Press Ravilious saw the potential for this illustrated book.

Written by J.M. Richards, High Street was published in London by Country Life Books in 1938.

Since the untimely death of Eric Ravilious in the Second World War his reputation has grown, and he is now recognised as one of the great British artists of the 20th Century. His work, his paintings, wood engravings and lithographs are much sought after by collectors. High Street with its beautiful lithographs is now considered one of Eric Ravilious’ finest pieces of illustration, artwork and design.

Eric Ravilious and his mastery of lithography

In the UK in the 1930s lithography became a printing process much loved by artists. In the hands of many artists, wonderful prints, posters and books were produced with this subtle printing technique. Working on lithographic stones, or plates, an artist can draw directly in a way that allows them to overlay colour and capture the immediacy of touch. It is a technique that creates rich and colourful overlaid images. Ravilious mastered this process, creating a range of  fine prints plus this unique and beautiful book.

This copy of High Street by Eric Ravilious is rare and original. This book was not a limited edition but the lithographic plates were destroyed during the Blitz, thus only 2000 copies are known to have been produced. Many copies of the book are known to have been taken apart so that the lithographs can be individually framed, thus, this is a rare copy.

Book condition

This copy of High Street by Eric Ravilious is in very good condition. It has hardly been opened. There is some fox-marking on the end-papers but the lithographs are clean and bright. There are some small scuffs at the top and bottom of the spine and on the cover edges.

If you have any questions about this copy or would like to see more images please get in touch.

For a high value item such as this please contact us before purchase. We need to know your location so that we can confirm packaging, delivery, tracking, etc.

You can also click here to read our article on the beauty of hand-drawn lithography and see other artists’ at work.

The Story of High Street

We also have for sale a copy of ‘ Eric Ravilious, The Story of High Street‘. A limited edition of 750 copies, published by Mainstone Press, Norwich in 2008. This is a wonderful and detailed study of the story of how High Street was conceived and produced. Beautifully printed, it shows early sketches for the book and tells the story of the entire team behind this book.

A Wedgwood plate designed by Ravilious.

Wedgwood and Ravilious.

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Eric Ravilious and the Towner Gallery

The Towner Gallery is a contemporary art gallery and museum based in South East England. It is situated close to the South Downs which were a favourite landscape subject for Ravilious and where he lived. The gallery has many of his works on show.

Visit the Towner Gallery website.

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