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  • Place of origin:

    United Kingdom (made)

  • Date:

    1978 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Thomson, Diana (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Wood block print in ink on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Walter Strachan

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E, case MP, shelf 55, box A

This image of an owl by Diana Thomson is not a woodcut but is formed by pressing an inked block of wood onto paper in several positions to create the image. It is part of a collection of owl images amassed by poet and scholar Walter Strachan (1903-1994).

Strachan was fascinated by the art of the book. His interest was inspired by a visit to an exhibition of artists’ books at the National Gallery in London in May 1945. In due course he wrote many articles on the subject, as well as a major reference work, The Artist and the Book in France (published 1969); he also encouraged successive Keepers of the National Art Library at the V&A “to buy them for England.” To this end he visited France every year, to meet the artists, and acquired proof pages to illustrate his articles and to show to potential purchasers of the books, including the V&A. Over the years he amassed a collection of images of owls; some of these were illustrations from livres d’artistes, and others were designed especially for him as gifts or greetings. The collection of owls began with a visit to the artist Roger Chastel (1897-1981) in 1952, where he witnessed the printing of Le Bestiaire de Paul Eluard. In a subsequent article (“Genesis and Growth of a Collection”, for Connoisseur, 1972) he explained: “My article on Chastel’s Bestiaire had the happy result of bringing me a special print on Auvergne paper of the owl which I had admired in the book. Contacts in the art-world of Paris are close and friendly, and I was marked down as an owl-man, in consequence of which I have gradually been given dedicated owl prints and originals in every medium from pen and ink to enamel…”

Physical description

Black and white image of an owl formed by several inked impressions from a block of wood.

Place of Origin

United Kingdom (made)


1978 (made)


Thomson, Diana (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Wood block print in ink on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'Wood Block Print "Owl" D.C.T. 1978'
Inscribed in pencil, lower left.

'Diana Thomson'
Artist signature, inscribed in pencil, lower left.

'Mr & Mrs Strachan, / with love, best wishes + thanks for a very / encouraging talk on May 27th, 1988.'
Inscribed in pencil, lower left.


Height: 50.8 cm sheet size, Width: 46.8 cm sheet size

Object history note

This forms part of a collection of prints, drawings and paintings of owls bequeathed to the V&A by Walter Strachan (1903-1994). Strachan, a scholar and collector of Livres d'Artistes, became friendly with a large number of artists, who, on hearing that he had a fondness for owls, began sending him images to add to his collection.

Descriptive line

Print using inked wood blocks, owl, by Diana Thomson, 1978.

Production Note

Reason For Production: Private


Paper; Ink


Printing; Frottage

Subjects depicted



Images Online; Prints

Production Type



Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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