Private Collection

Tirzah Garwood-Ravilious (1908 - 1951)

Background to Toy Train, 1950

SKU: 11030
Oil on canvas, with tin plate toy

Height – 29.2cm
Width – 39.1cm


The Artists Family; private collection

Literature: Hornet & Wild Rose, The Art of Tirzah Garwood, by Anne Ullmann, The Fleece Press, 2020

The diary of Henry Swanzy records the following on the 10th May, 1950: ‘At home, she (Tirzah) is painting the Georgian doll’s house with special care.’ 

Anne Ullman writes that ‘Nero, the tin-plate engine with blue and yellow livery and matching carriage, was mounted and placed in a deep frame; behind this is the painted backdrop which gives this picture its title, Background to Toy Train. These are the only two pieces of the train set to have survived. It is possible the picture framer may have mounted the train back to front as the pretty lettering Nero is invisible to the viewer. 

We are indebted to Anne Ullman for her assistance. 

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Tirzah Garwood-Ravilious
1908 - 1951

Eileen ‘Tirzah’ Garwood attended Eastbourne School of Art (1925’28), where she was taught by Eric Ravilious (1903 – 1942) whom she married in 1930.

She first exhibited in 1927, at the Redfern Gallery, and an early woodcut shown at the 1927 SWE exhibition received significant praise in The Times. Such was the originality of her printmaking that she exerted an influence over Ravilious’ own wood engravings. She was also commissioned by the BBC in 1928 to illustrate Granville Bantock’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, and made whimsical but exacting observational pictures that were popular with children and exhibited by the Society for Education in Art.

While recovering from emergency mastectomy surgery in 1942 she wrote her autobiography, Long Live Great Bardfield & Love to You All (published posthumously in 2012). After Ravilious’ death that same year, Garwood remained in Essex until her remarriage in 1946. She was again diagnosed with cancer in 1948 and died in 1951. In 1952, a memorial exhibition was held at the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne.


Tirzah Garwood-Ravilious (1908 - 1951)
The Crocodile
Tirzah Garwood-Ravilious (1908 - 1951)
The Dog Show, 1929
Tirzah Garwood-Ravilious (1908 - 1951)
Background to Toy Train, 1950
Tirzah Garwood-Ravilious (1908 - 1951)
Daren, Baker’s Shop, 1945-46
Tirzah Garwood-Ravilious (1908 - 1951)
Vegetable Garden, circa 1933
Tirzah Garwood-Ravilious (1908 - 1951)
House at Great Bardfield, 1945