Used on the cover of the Golden Cockerel Press Autumn List, 1931, this flamboyant lady is based on Ravilious’ wife Tirzah. Robert Gibbings had asked Ravilious if he could engrave a device ‘for a fiver and the block which I can send you’. He outlined a design based on a merro-go-round cockerel, suggesting a ‘robust animal with a naughty twinkle in its eye and a comb suggesting a drunken coronet’. Its rider should be a ‘luscious lady’.
The block bears a vague outline nude drawn on the underside. On 11 September 1931 Gibbings wrote to Ravilious explaining that he had done this ‘for the benefit of Pathe who were down here yesterday filming us at work for their Pictorial’. When he had finished the engraving, Ravilious wrote ‘it was fun to do’, hoping that Gibbings would not mind that he had deviated slightly from the suggested design.
Very few of Ravilious’ blocks survive, and this one was never editioned by the artist. 120 copies (110 for sale) have been printed with pleasure by Simon Lawrence at his Fleece Press on vintage Basingwerk Parchment.