Diving Into the World of Beatrix Potter

h1 December 13th, 2016 by jules

Illustration for The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin, 1903
(Click to enlarge)


Here’s a quick post to remind you that it’s still a good time to be a Beatrix Potter fan, as the world celebrates her 150th birthday this year. One of the best ways to celebrate it, I’ve found, is by reading The Art of Beatrix Potter: Sketches, Paintings, and Illustrations, released by Chronicle last month.

What a treat this book is! It features a whole heapin’ lot (to be precise) of her artwork—per the publisher, there are over 200 pieces of artwork here—and includes rare pieces, such as sketches from her notebooks, watercolors, unpublished works (even greeting cards), illustrated letters she sent, handwritten notes/drafts, pen-and-ink studies, and much more. Organized geographically (London and the South Coast; Scotland; The Lake District; Wales and Beyond), it is packed with information and art — information about her life and her inspirations. The text is from author, editor, and image researcher Emily Zach. There’s a foreword by Steven Heller, who teaches at the School of Visual Arts. Linda Lear, who previously wrote a biography of Potter, writes the introduction. And Scottish illustrator and painter Eleanor Taylor writes a reverent afterword. Her words stick with me:

I have gathered great faith that the things we see and do as children can be called on and used in our adult-driven world. Beatrix Potter saw the world as accurately and as sharply as I believe children do, and her work spoke directly to children without condescension. … Her detailed illustrations and enchanting words taught me that to closely observe the world around me is a wonderful thing ….

There’s a lot here in this handsomely-designed art book for both fans of children’s book illustration, as well as nature art. Potter fans, it goes without saying, will be especially enchanted.

Here’s a bit more art:


Background drawing for The Tale of Little Pig Robinson
(Click to enlarge)


The garden of Tenby, with cat and pool (1900)
(Click to enlarge)


Spike cap; 1894; watercolor
(Click to enlarge)


Illustration for The Tale of Ginger and Pickles,
published in 1909

(Click to enlarge)


At evening’s close; 1902; pen-and-ink and watercolor
(Click to enlarge)


Illustration for The Tale of Samuel Whiskers,
published in 1908

(Click to enlarge)



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Frederick Warne & Co is the owner of all rights, copyrights and trademarks in the Beatrix Potter character names and illustrations. All images here are used by permission of Chronicle Books, San Francisco.

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