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Grey Owl (Archibald Belaney, 1888-1938)Enlarge image

Grey Owl (Archibald Belaney, 1888-1938), 27 February 1936, printed 1989

Yousuf Karsh
Armenian, Canadian, 1908 - 2002
gelatin silver print
50.1 x 40.2 cm
Gift of the artist, Ottawa, 1989
National Gallery of Canada (no. 30342)
© 27 February 1936 Yousuf Karsh

portrait, single, male;
The image of Grey Owl, which began life as an almost full-length figure, was reprinted from the same negative around 1963 as only a detail of the face.There is a mysterious and brooding atmosphere to this image, due in part to the impenetrable gaze of the sitter and the almost grim expression on his face. It is a "romantic" portrait that deftly plays light areas against dark and the rugged, angular forms of the face against the soft curves of the Grey Owl's hat and scarf. Karsh learned the dramatic possiblities of lighting from watching performances and rehearsals of the Ottawa Little Theatre. Grey Owl (1888-1938), born Archibald Belaney in Hastings, England, was a writer and conservationist who moved to Canada at the age of 17. He later adopted the name Grey Owl and represented himself as half-Apache. He lived with an Ojibway tribe, worked in national parks, and wrote books including "Pilgrims of the Wild", "Men of the Last Frontier" and "Adventures of Sajo and Her Beaver People". Grey Owl concentrated his efforts on the preservation of forests, wild animals and Native culture.

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