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Boat Race Day Bowl: C.23-2002

Object information

Current Location: In storage


Boat Race Day Bowl


Josiah Wedgwood & Sons Ltd
Designer: Ravilious, Eric William




Creamware bowl printed underglaze in black and painted in two shades of blue, yellow, and pink enamels with an oval view of Piccadilly Circus on Boat Race Night in the middle, and, on the exterior, a mermaid, and three views of stages of the Boat Race.

Creamware, printed underglaze in black, glazed, and painted with pale blue, royal blue, yellow, and pink enamels. Large, circular bowl with deep curved sides. The underside is flat and glazed, surrounded by a low foot-ring which is moulded to suggest two rings on the outside. In the middle, an oval view of Piccadilly Circus on Boat Race Night covers the base. The area is full of people, some swarming up the stairs of a bus, others on the roof of a car and atop a building. Signs advertise Guinness; Bovril; Schweppes; Bass; Dunlop and The Palladium theatre; a clock shows 11.30. The sky is dark; yellow light shines from the buildings; pale blue highlights the thronging crowd. There are four further oval vignettes on the outside of the bowl. One shows the race in progress: the light blue boat pulling ahead of the dark blue, boats on the riverbank, cheering spectators highlighted in pink. Two show spectators in a flag-bedecked boat beside a bridge, and in a steamship, with swans and reeds on the bank. The fourth is a smaller graphic emblem of a mermaid in a boat, under the yellow-rayed sun in a blue sky, surrounded by four sets of oars. The colours are used sparingly to highlight features of the images.


History note: The Fine Art Society, 148 New Bond Street, London, W1S 2JT

Legal notes

Given by the Friends of the Fitzwilliam Museum

Measurements and weight

Height: 13.2 cm

Place(s) associated

  • Etruria ⪼ Staffordshire ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (2002) by The Friends of the Fitzwilliam Museum


20th Century, second quarter#
Elizabeth II
Circa 1938 CE - 1940 CE


Eric Ravilious (1903-42) studied engraving, illustration and colour printing at the Royal College of Art and by 1926-28 was exhibiting watercolours, producing book illustrations and commissioned to paint murals. In 1930 he married Eileen Lucy "Tirzah" Garwood (1908-1951) also a noted artist and engraver. From around 1936, he became one of Wedgwood’s most prolific freelance designers, although many of his designs were not produced in quantity until after World War II, during which he was killed while serving as a war artist with the Royal Marines. Wedgwood had revived the use of engraved designs in the mid 1930s – a mode of decoration which allowed the artist’s own work and ‘hand-writing’ to be reproduced in a factory setting, and well suited to Ravilious’ style.

The Fitzwilliam Museum also holds a war-time watercolour by Ravilious, two books with his engravings and a number of his prints, and a book of Tirzah Ravilious’ engravings.

‘Boat Race Day’ was designed in 1938, and appeared on a bowl, cup and stand until around 1940. Earlier designs were engraved at the factory from Ravilious’ drawings, but the ‘Boat Race’ images were lithographs drawn by Ravilious himself for direct application to the ware. The design was not among Ravilious designs produced again in the early 1950s, but a limited edition of 200 ‘Boat Race Day’ bowls was re-issued in 1975, with a special backstamp. Other Wedgwood commemorative ware by Ravilious includes an Edward VIII Coronation mug, later adapted for both George VI and Elizabeth II, and a mug celebrating the company’s relocation to Barlaston in1939. He also designed at least seven Wedgwood tableware services, each with a number of vignettes on a single everyday theme. His ‘Travel’ dinner service for six, produced in the 1950s and depicting travel through snow and by balloon, bus, train, aeroplane, steamboat and sail, cost £17 3s 6d.

People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of enamels ( pale blue, royal blue, yellow, pink)
Rim Diameter 31.2 cm

Materials used in production

clear Glaze
creamware Earthenware

Techniques used in production

Throwing : Thrown earthenware, printed in black underglaze and painted overglaze in pale blue, royal blue, yellow and pink enamels.

Inscription or legends present

  • Text: 'Designed/by Eric/Ravilious'
  • Location: Underside of base
  • Method of creation: Printed in black
  • Type: Mark
  • Location: Underside of base
  • Method of creation: Printed in black
  • Type: Mark
  • Text: '6'
  • Location: Underside of base
  • Method of creation: Printed in black
  • Type: Mark
  • Text: B
  • Location: On the base
  • Method of creation: Printed in green
  • Type: Mark
  • Text: CL 6263 / MW
  • Location: On the base
  • Method of creation: Painted in red enamel
  • Type: Mark

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.23-2002
Primary reference Number: 82308
Entry form: 179
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Friday 14 July 2023 Last processed: Monday 18 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Boat Race Day Bowl" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-05-19 22:51:03

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{{cite web|url= |title=Boat Race Day Bowl |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-05-19 22:51:03|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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