When did I last see this poster?

I don’t know.  Two weeks off for the Easter holidays, lots of racing around and then I come back and discover that I can’t remember what on earth I meant to say about posters before I went.  Well there is something about the S.S. Canberra, but frankly that all looks a bit complicated for today, while trying to make sense of the Christies results will just give me a headache (although we do have a short eyewitness report here if you like).  So instead, I give you this.

Richard Barrett Talbot Kelly ravens poster vintage London Transport 1960

In part, I am posting it because I can’t remember when I did last see this poster.  It used to be on the wall of our stairs, but eight months after we sold those stairs, and the rest of the house that went with it,  we’re still in rented limbo and the poor ravens are still in storage in Warminster.  And they are rather too good for that; even if they were only £21 on eBay, I esteem them very highly.

The poster is by Richard Barrett Talbot Kelly.  Now when I look him up on the London Transport Museum website, it turns out that he was a bit of a slow worker, for them at least.  He produced this in 1927.

Richard Barrett Talbot Kelly vintage London Transport poster 1927 London Zoo

This pair poster in 1948.

Richard Barrett Talbot Kelly vintage London transport pair poster 1948

Then the ravens finally came along in 1960.  Five years before that, he’d also produced this poster for British Railways too.

Richard Barrett Talbot Kelly suffolk vintage travel poster waders British Railways

All of which led me to imagine that he might have had another life as a wildlife painter and just produced posters on the side.  So imagine my surprise when I clicked on a link to some of his paintings at Liss Fine Art, and found this instead.


It turns out that Richard Barrett Talbot Kelly was born in 1896, and served in the First World War.  (He also wrote a book about his experiences Subaltern’s Odyssey: Memoir of the Great War, 1915-17 if you’re interested).  So he was close to retirement age when he painted those ravens; I’d never have known.

In that long time of working he did also do a fair bit of wildlife painting, mostly birds.  Here are some geese which sold at Christies a while back.

Richard Barrett Talbot Kelly geese painting

I still like the ravens best, though, and I shall probably like them even more now that I know something of the man who painted them.  With a bit of luck I might even get to see them again soon.

  • A few very random comments, mostly on wildlife painting, not posters! – That is a pair of goosanders in the last pic. Although related to geese, they are actually very large ducks – diving ducks – and are members of the sawbill family ie unlike most other ducks, they have serrated bills. Bet you are thrilled to know this! They are very handsome birds (especially, inevitably, the male), always a delight to see. This is a lovely painting that captures their glamour.
    I remember the pochard coming up on Ebay last year & umming & ahhing whether to go for just the one half of a pair poster. Probably made the wrong decision in not doing so. I seem to recall that Talbot Kelly did some of the beautiful cover artwork for the RSPB magazine (‘Birds’) during my chilhood, in the days when the cover was always graced by a painting , not a photo. Others I recall in this genre were C. F. Tunnicliffe, Warren, & Robert Gillmor, who took over the Collins New Naturalist dustwrapper design commission when Clifford & Rosemary Ellis relinquished it. All with very distinctive styles.

    Incidently, Gillmor has a retrospective exhibition in his native Reading at present. Last few days. Grab it while you can!

    Love those ravens! He has the glint in their eyes to a T!

  • I am very pleased to know about goosanders, not least because it’s always good to hear from someone who knows about things – in this case wildlife painting – properly, so thank you. Now I have discovered even more about my ravens…

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