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  • Place of origin:

    France (probably, made)

  • Date:

    1970 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Riopelle, Jean-Paul (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Colour lithograph

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Walter Strachan

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

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

In 1970 Canadian-born painter Jean Paul Riopelle (1923-2002) exhibited a whole series of owl paintings at Galerie Maeght in Paris, an event for which this is a private view card. Riopelle became interested in surrealism when he met Paul-Emile Borduas (1905-1960) and the French-Canadian art group “Les Automatistes”, so called because influenced by surrealist automatism, spontaneous writing or drawing. After a move to Paris in 1947, his paintings became very sculptural as he began squeezing paint directly from the tube and shaping it with a palette knife.

Poet and scholar Walter Strachan (1903-1994) 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

Colour lithograph showing three owls, one green and grey with black line accents, one grey and white with black outline and the third in red line, with grey and black speckles and black outline. The image is on the front of an invitation card to a private view of work by Riopelle at Galerie Maeght, Paris, on 28th April 1970. There are three lines of verse written in red ballpoint pen on the back.

Place of Origin

France (probably, made)


1970 (made)


Riopelle, Jean-Paul (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Colour lithograph

Marks and inscriptions

'Leur attitude au sage enseigne / Qu'il faut en ce monde qu'il craigne / Le tumulte et le mouvement.'
Inscribed in red ballpoint pen on reverse.

'vous êtes prié d'honorer de votre préesence / le vernissage de l'exposition des oeuvres récentes de Riopelle / qui aura lieu / le mardi 28 avril 1970 à 17 heures / Galerie Maeght 13 rue de Téhéeran Paris 8'
Printed inside across the fold.


Height: 13.4 cm, Width: 42 cm open, Width: 21 cm folded

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

Colour lithograph, private view card showing owls, by Jean Paul Riopelle, 1970.

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

Beaudelaire, Charles. Les fleurs du mal. First published in Paris: 1857, 1861.

Production Note

Reason For Production: Exhibition




Colour lithography

Subjects depicted



Images Online; Prints

Production Type

Limited edition


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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