In May and June 2020 we will be continuing our review of English romanticism in the 20th century in the guise of a new show Mid Century Romanticism (1930-1970). We had originally intended to concentrate on the post WW2 scene, but a long term loan of the 1st edition of the Ravilious illustrated High Street published by Country Life in 1938 has led to a review and rescheduling.
Our good friends at the Fry Gallery in Saffron Walden use the term Rural Modernists in relation to the Bardfield group in which they specialise. However, whilst this classic ER title is broadly 30s in style, its spirit depicted in beautiful lithographs such as that below appears to me truly romantic.
Certainly some of the businesses depicted and their shop fronts bear little relation to a typical retail outlet of the period seen in period photographs or that I have experienced in my lifetime. Not a criticism in the slightest, but a grateful appreciation of a delightful flight of fancy, almost escapist at a time when the storm clouds were already gathering in Europe.
And Ravilious was not alone in his confection of a delightful demi world of the imagination; Rex Whistler, also sadly a casualty of conflict during WW2 depicted a neo-classical revival in his style far away from contemporary life. So it is our intention to include an (illustrated) bookish element in our brief overview in Summer 2020.