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Print

1968 (made)
Artist/Maker

This image of an owl is untypical of the surrealist paintings for which Salvador Dali (1904-1989) is known but shows a scratchy drypoint technique that appears in his late print work such as his artist book, Les Chants de Maldorer (1971). Around 1950, Dali started to move away from surrealism, saying: "to be a surrealist forever is like spending your life painting nothing but eyes and noses". He developed an interest in science, religion and history and started to turn to the great classical masters of painting like Raphael, Velasquez or the French painter Ingres as inspiration.

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…”


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Colour drypoint on paper
Brief Description
Colour drypoint, owl, by Salvador Dali, 1968.
Physical Description
Colour drypoint depicting an owl resting on a branch, surrounded by blue and yellow stars.
Dimensions
  • Plate height: 39.3cm
  • Plate width: 26.2cm
  • Sheet height: 57cm
  • Sheet width: 44.4cm
Marks and Inscriptions
  • Dali (Artist signature inscribed in pencil, lower right margin.)
  • E.A. (E[preuve] A[rtiste]. Inscribed in pencil, lower left margin.)
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
This is an artist's proof for the edition of 200.
Subjects depicted
Summary
This image of an owl is untypical of the surrealist paintings for which Salvador Dali (1904-1989) is known but shows a scratchy drypoint technique that appears in his late print work such as his artist book, Les Chants de Maldorer (1971). Around 1950, Dali started to move away from surrealism, saying: "to be a surrealist forever is like spending your life painting nothing but eyes and noses". He developed an interest in science, religion and history and started to turn to the great classical masters of painting like Raphael, Velasquez or the French painter Ingres as inspiration.



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…”
Bibliographic Reference
Ralf Michler and Lutz W. Lopsinge. Salvador Dali : Das Druckgrafische Werk 1924-1980 : Oeuvrekatalog der Radierungen und Mixed Media Grafiken. Munich : 1994.
Collection
Accession Number
E.230-1994

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record createdOctober 5, 2005
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