The Long Man of Wilmington thumbnail 1
The Long Man of Wilmington thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
Not currently on display at the V&A
On short term loan out for exhibition

The Long Man of Wilmington

Watercolour
1939 (painted)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

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.
read What is watercolour? From the moment the South Kensington Museum (now the V&A) opened its doors to the public in 1857, watercolours were at the heart of the new museum's ambitions for its fine art collections. It was the artist Richard Redgrave, the government's Inspector-General for Art, who championed the fo...
object details
Categories
Object Type
Additional TitleThe Wilmington Giant (assigned by artist)
Materials and Techniques
Watercolour
Brief Description
Watercolour drawing by Eric Ravilious (1903-1942) depicting 'The Wilmington Giant'. Great Britain, 1939.
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'.
Dimensions
  • Height: 44.2cm
  • Width: 54.8cm
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
Eric Ravilious / August 39 (Signed and dated)
Object history
This drawing was No.1902 in the United Artists Exhibition held at Burlington House, January to march 1940.
Subjects depicted
Places Depicted
Summary
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.
Bibliographic References
  • 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
  • pp. 112-3James Russell, Ravilious, London : Philip Wilson, 2015. xi, 168 p. : ill. (chiefly col.), ports. ; 28 cm. ISBN: 9781781300329 / 1781300321.
  • Coombs, Katherine British watercolours : 1750-1950 . London: V&A Publications, 2012p.130, pl.124
Collection
Accession Number
P.3-1940

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record createdDecember 15, 1999
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