Privately Held

Tirzah Garwood-Ravilious (1908 - 1951)

Semi-detached Villas, 1945

SKU: 7044
Signed. Mixed media, collage.

Height – 39.5cm
Width – 38cm


Kenneth Rowntree; thence by descent; private collection
Sanctuary, Artist-Gardeners, 1919-39, Garden Museum, London, 25th February ‚5 April, 2020.
Hornet & Wild Rose, The Art of Tirzah Garwood, by Anne Ullmann, The Fleece Press, 2020. Christopher Woodward, Sanctuary: Artist-Gardeners, 1919–1939, published by Liss Llewellyn, 2020.

During her recovery from a mastectomy for primary cancer and closely

followed by the death of my father, the artist Eric Ravilious, in 1942,

my mother, Tirzah, wrote an entertainingly direct and perceptive

autobiography of their life together. She was thirty-four and the mother

of three young children. As a student, she had excelled as a wood

engraver. She now rediscovered the creativity that had lain virtually

dormant throughout her married life. She began painting in oils, but

also produced a series of captivating images of local Essex houses and

shop fronts, (1944–1949). She soon developed her own distinctive style,

where each one was lovingly recorded with a mixture of print and collage

which she assembled and sometimes constructed into a 3D model in

a shallow box frame. This early example, Semi-detached Villas, has the

barge boarding and paint work picked out in ochre against the dark

brown house, and the deep wooden frame painted white gives an added

spatial dimension to the image set back behind the glass. A quantity of

sketches of architectural details suggest that all her subjects were from

real life. The key to the success of Tirzah’s series of houses is that as a

painter might set about portraying a human face, so Tirzah, by isolating

the subject and stressing the features that most interest her, brings out the

individuality that had originally attracted her to her subject. This picture

was once owned by her friend, Kenneth Rowntree.

Commentary by Anne Ullman. Ullman took a Negotiated Art Degree which included a module researching the lives and

work of her parents, Tirzah Garwood and Eric Ravilious. She has published her father’s letters and

her mother’s autobiography and is currently working on a book about her mother’s career.

Only one needlework picture from the early 1930's survives.  It shows a walled garden with beds of cabbages and marrows, and a young woman watering a row of runner beans; the hose circling the lawn snakes around her feet and sends out a fine spray of satin silk water.  The embroidery is reminiscent of the work once made by sailors on long sea voyages, and as such has a very English feel; as so often in her work, Tirzah demonstrates an innovative approach to a traditional craft.  Her use of modern imagery and unusual everyday subject matter, a fashionable artistic trend in the 1930's, now giving this needlework picture a very evocative flavour of the era.

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Garwood-Ravilious, Tirzah

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
Tirzah Garwood-Ravilious (1908 - 1951)
Semi-detached Villas, 1945