Not currently on display at the V&A

Drawing

1965 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This watercolour drawing, signed in 1965, was commissioned specially for poet and scholar Walter Strachan (1903-1994) by the president of Les Bibliophiles Comtois. This society published a number of artist books, including those illustrated by Bernard Gantner (born 1928). Cecile by Benjamin Constant, published in 1951, was in Strachan’s book collection.

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…”


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Wash drawing on paper
Brief Description
Wash drawing, owl in woodland, by Bernard Gantner, 1965.
Physical Description
Wash drawing of an owl sitting within a wood. The owl is black and white with some red and white highlighting. The wooded background is in blues and blacks.
Dimensions
  • Height: 44.9cm
  • Width: 34cm
Production typeUnique
Marks and Inscriptions
Gantner 1965 (Signed and dated in ink, lower right.)
Credit line
Bequeathed by Walter Strachan
Object history
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.
Production
Reason For Production: Private
Subjects depicted
Summary
This watercolour drawing, signed in 1965, was commissioned specially for poet and scholar Walter Strachan (1903-1994) by the president of Les Bibliophiles Comtois. This society published a number of artist books, including those illustrated by Bernard Gantner (born 1928). Cecile by Benjamin Constant, published in 1951, was in Strachan’s book collection.



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…”
Bibliographic Reference
Strachan, Walter J. Graphic owls from France: variations on a theme in an English private collection. Connoisseur. Aug. 1972. pp.240-247.
Collection
Accession Number
E.233-1994

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record createdOctober 5, 2005
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