Lot 161
  • 161

Potter, Beatrix.

50,000 - 70,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Complete set of four watercolours (on three sheets) for 'This pig went to market', comprising:
i) 'This Pig went to Market; | This Pig staid at home;', 215 by 283mm.; ii) 'This Pig had a bit of Meat;', 143 by 118mm. [together with] 'And this Pig | had none!', 132 by 114mm.; iii) 'This little Pig cried "Wee! Wee! Wee! | I can't find my way home!"', 216 by 284mm.; all pencil, ink and watercolour drawings heightened with white, three sheets, unsigned, mounted, framed and glazed, slight fading and discolouration of the board, some minor spotting


Sold in these rooms, 18 November 1999, lot 175 ('The property of the Hyde-Parker family by descent')

Catalogue Note

the original 1890 set of beatrix potter watercolours for the nursery rhyme.

This is the only complete set known to survive.

In 1922 Anne Carroll Moore of New York Public Library met Beatrix Potter and encouraged her to consider publishing a volume of nursery rhymes. In a letter dated 12 November 1922, Potter wrote 'I found time, somehow, to collect some old drawings and piece them together with some additions for a little book of nursery rhymes'. Cecily Parsley's Nursery Rhymes was published for Christmas 1922 and consisted of work from different periods, some as early as the 1890s.

The published illustrations for 'This pig went to market' were redrawn for publication in 1922 and reveal a number of differences from the present set. Most obvious is that the last illustration is reversed. The place names on the signpost are also different. The published version has a sign 'To Porkham' which, in this watercolour, reads 'To Melford'. Melford Hall was the home of the Hyde-Parker family who were cousins of Beatrix Potter and this present set was originally drawn for Potter's cousin, Stephanie Hyde-Parker in the 1890s.

Three of the four redrawn illustrations from 1922 are in the collection of The National Trust. The first in the sequence is missing, however, and the present set therefore represents the only complete series.

The unique status of these four watercolours is acknowledged in Anne Stevenson Hobbs' Beatrix Potter - Artist and Illustrator (2005) on page 128.