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Watercolour - The Long Man of Wilmington
  • The Long Man of Wilmington
    Ravilious, Eric, born 1903 - died 1942
  • Enlarge image

The Long Man of Wilmington

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Wilmington (painted)

  • Date:

    1939 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Ravilious, Eric, born 1903 - died 1942 (painter)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, room WS, case R, shelf 108, box L

Eric Ravilious was a successful designer in many media, but in later life concentrated increasingly on watercolours. His favourite themes were landscapes and rural interiors, often featuring the downland and coast of southern England. He made several paintings of the chalk hill figures. The Wilmington Giant, or the Long Man of Wilmington, cut into the turf of the northern slope of the downs near Eastbourne, is the subject of fierce controversy. Some say it is of great antiquity, and represents a Celtic iron age god, similar to the Roman god Janus, who stands at the doorway to the celestial year. However, recent excavations at the foot of the hill suggest a much more recent date in the late 16th or early 17th century. The purpose of the gigantic figure is still a complete mystery.

Physical description

Watercolour drawing of the Wilmington Giant chalk man cut into the side of a hill on the South Downs in Sussex. Signed and dated 'Eric Ravilious/August [19]39'.

Place of Origin

Wilmington (painted)


1939 (painted)


Ravilious, Eric, born 1903 - died 1942 (painter)

Materials and Techniques


Marks and inscriptions

Eric Ravilious / August 39
Signed and dated


Height: 44.2 cm, Width: 54.5 cm, Height: 905 mm frame, Width: 675 mm frame, Depth: 40 mm frame

Object history note

This drawing was No.1902 in the United Artists Exhibition held at Burlington House, January to march 1940.

Descriptive line

Watercolour drawing by Eric Ravilious (1903-1942) depicting 'The Wilmington Giant'. Great Britain, 1939.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Evans, Mark et al. Vikutoria & Arubāto Bijutsukan-zō : eikoku romanshugi kaigaten = The Romantic tradition in British painting, 1800-1950 : masterpieces from the Victoria and Albert Museum. Japan : Brain Trust, 2002
James Russell, Ravilious, London : Philip Wilson, 2015. xi, 168 p. : ill. (chiefly col.), ports. ; 28 cm. ISBN: 9781781300329 / 1781300321.
pp. 112-3
p.130, pl.124
Coombs, Katherine British watercolours : 1750-1950 . London: V&A Publications, 2012




Watercolour drawing

Subjects depicted

Landscape; Fence; Hill figure; Chalk; Giant




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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