See beloved author Beatrix Potter’s magical nature drawings as they are on display in London

0

Almost 80 years after his death, Beatrice Potter (1866-1943) remains one of the most beloved and popular children’s book authors in the world, having sold 250 million copies of books such as The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

But a new exhibition dedicated to the artist at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London aims to paint a much fuller picture of his life, highlighting Potter’s work in the natural sciences, his stewardship of the English landscape and his achievements. as a sheep farmer. as his literary success.

“Her legacy can be seen in more than one way,” Annemarie Bilclough, the exhibit’s curator, told Artnet News. “We wanted to get an overview of his accomplishments beyond his storybooks, because there was such a wide range.”

Beatrix Potter: drawn to natureis so titled because “the theme of nature underlies everything she has done,” she added.

drawings of a ground beetle (circa 1887). Photo ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London, courtesy of Frederick Warne and Co. Ltd.” width=”754″ height=”1024″ srcset=”https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/03/im-469594-754×1024.jpeg 754w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/03/im-469594-221×300.jpeg 221w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/03/im-469594-37×50.jpeg 37w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/03/im-469594.jpeg 1400w” sizes=”(max-width: 754px) 100vw, 754px”/>

Beatrix Potter, scientific drawings of a ground beetle (circa 1887).
Photo ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London, courtesy of Frederick Warne and Co. Ltd.

The exhibition, which is accompanied by a beautifully illustrated monograph published by Rizoli, features 200 works of art, manuscripts, photographs and other artifacts, including little-known scientific drawings. (For a time, Potter studied to become a mycologist.)

Although Potter lived in London until she was 40, she grew up in a family that had a deep interest in the natural world, fueling her interest in plants, animals and the landscape. This passion is even reflected in his earliest works of art, a series of sketchbooks made when Potter was eight, nine and 10 years old. She started formal art classes at age 12.

“She was already drawing nature scenes, with flowers and landscapes, almost as part of homeschooling,” Bilclough said. “There’s a page of caterpillars, and on the other side she wrote notes about where they lived, what kind of things they ate, and what they looked like. But she ends up in the middle of her sentence, as if she had forgotten to finish her homework.

Beatrix Potter, sketchbook preserved at the age of nine, dated March to April 1876. Photo ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London, courtesy of Frederick Warne and Co Ltd.

Beatrix Potter, sketchbook preserved at the age of nine, dated March to April 1876. Photo ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London, courtesy of Frederick Warne and Co Ltd.

This careful observation of living things is at the heart of “Drawn to Nature”, organized in partnership with the National Trustto whom Potter had left most of his manuscripts and watercolors, as well as 4,000 acres of the rural Lake District in the Cumbria region of north-west England.

As a teenager, Potter began vacationing in the area and fell in love with the scenic countryside. In 1905, she bought and moved into the 17th century farmhouse top of the hill, the first of many properties she has purchased in the neighborhood as part of her efforts to protect the landscape. (Later in life, Potter became an award-winning breeder of Herdwick sheep.)

Hill Top, the 17th century farmhouse that was Beatrix Potter's first estate in the Lake District, now a National Trust historic site.  Photo © National Trust Pictures.

Hill Top, the 17th century farmhouse that was Beatrix Potter’s first estate in the Lake District, now a National Trust historic site. Photo © National Trust Pictures.

Potter often based his drawings on his real life pets. During her lifetime, she had 92, including the rabbits Peter Piper and Benjamin Bouncer, who became Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny, perhaps her best-known characters.

Rupert Potter, Beatrix Potter, age 15, with her dog Spot (circa 1880).  Photo ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London, courtesy of Frederick Warne and Co Ltd.

Rupert Potter, Beatrix Potter, age 15, with her dog Spot (circa 1880). Photo ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London, courtesy of Frederick Warne and Co Ltd.

Designed to appeal to Potter fans of all ages, the exhibit includes interactive elements and, if you listen carefully, a cheeky soundtrack of mice jostling through the walls, as if its characters are messing around just out of sight.

See more of Potter’s work below.

Beatrix Potter, Mice at Work: Threading the Needle of the Gloucester Tailor's Work (1902).  Courtesy of Tate, London.

Beatrix Potter, Mice at work: threading the needle from Work of the Gloucester Tailor (1902). Courtesy of Tate, London.

Beatrix Potter, Examples of a yellow grisette (Amanita crocea (1897). Photo ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London, courtesy of Frederick Warne and Co Ltd.

Beatrix Potter, Examples of yellow grisette (Amanita crocea) (1897). Photo ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London, courtesy of Frederick Warne and Co Ltd.

Beatrix Potter, Studies in Bees and Other Insects (circa 1895).  Photo ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London, courtesy of Frederick Warne and Co Ltd.

Beatrix Potter, Studies on bees and other insects (circa 1895). Photo ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London, courtesy of Frederick Warne and Co Ltd.

Beatrix Potter, Cornflowers (circa 1880).  Photo ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London, courtesy of Frederick Warne and Co Ltd.

Beatrix Potter, blueberries (circa 1880). Photo ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London, courtesy of Frederick Warne and Co Ltd.

Beatrix Potter, illustration for Jemima Puddle-Duck (1908).  Photo © National Trust Pictures.

Beatrix Potter, illustration for Jemima Puddle-Duck (1908). Photo © National Trust Pictures.

Beatrix Potter, illustrated letter to Nancy Nicholson (circa 1917).  Photo ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London, courtesy of Frederick Warne and Co Ltd.

Beatrix Potter, illustrated letter to Nancy Nicholson (circa 1917). Photo ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London, courtesy of Frederick Warne and Co Ltd.

Beatrix Potter, <em>Water Lilies, probably on Esthwaite Water</em> (circa 1906).  Photo ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London, courtesy of Frederick Warne and Co Ltd.” width=”1024″ height=”807″ srcset=”https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload /2022/03/download-1-2-e1647547987888-1024×807.png 1024w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/03/download-1-2-e1647547987888-300×236.png 300w , https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/03/download-1-2-e1647547987888-50×39.png 50w” sizes=”(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px”/></p>
<p class=Beatrix Potter, Water lilies, probably on Esthwaite Water (circa 1906). Photo ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London, courtesy of Frederick Warne and Co Ltd.
Beatrix Potter, <em>Four rabbits in a burrow</em> (circa 1895).  Photo ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London, courtesy of Frederick Warne and Co Ltd.” width=”1024″ height=”906″ srcset=”https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload /2022/03/download-3-e1647549513381-1024×906.png 1024w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/03/download-3-e1647549513381-300×265.png 300w, https:/ /news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/03/download-3-e1647549513381-50×44.png 50w” sizes=”(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px”/></p>
<p class=Beatrix Potter, Four rabbits in a burrow (circa 1895). Photo ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London, courtesy of Frederick Warne and Co Ltd.
Beatrix Potter, Esthwaite Water View (1909).  Photo ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London, courtesy of Frederick Warne and Co Ltd.

Beatrix Potter, Esthwaite Water View (1909). Photo ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London, courtesy of Frederick Warne and Co Ltd.

Beatrix Potter, Illustrated Letter to Noel Moore from Heath Park, Birnam, Scotland (1892).  Photo courtesy of Princeton University Library.

Beatrix Potter, Illustrated Letter to Noel Moore from Heath Park, Birnam, Scotland (1892). Photo courtesy of Princeton University Library.

‘Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature’ is on view at the Victoria & Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL, from 12 February 2022 to 8 January 2023.

To follow Artnet News on Facebook:


Want to stay one step ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to receive breaking news, revealing interviews and incisive reviews that move the conversation forward.

Share.

About Author

Comments are closed.