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  • Date:

    1973 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Russell, Charles (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Walter Strachan

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

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

This etching of an owl by Charles Russell is part of a collection of images of owls 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

Etching on paper, in black and white, showing an owl in a fir tree.


1973 (made)


Russell, Charles (artist)

Materials and Techniques


Marks and inscriptions

'Russell '73'
Artist signature and date inscribed in pencil, lower right.

Inscribed in pencil, lower left.

'For Walter Strachan and / his Congress of Owls. May / the eternal wisdom of these creatures permeate the world. / 16 April '73.'
Inscribed in pencil, lower centre.


Height: 14.8 cm plate size, Width: 18.2 cm plate size, Height: 25.2 cm sheet size, Width: 33 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

Etching, owl in fir tree, by Charles Russell, 1973.

Production Note

Reason For Production: Private


Etching (printing process)

Subjects depicted

Tree, fir; Owls


Images Online; Prints

Production Type



Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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