Details & Cataloguing

English Literature, History, Children's Books & Illustrations

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Potter, Beatrix
TWO RABBITS WITH A SLEDGE IN THE SNOW
94 by 131mm., fine ink and watercolour drawing, signed with initials lower right, framed and glazed, some light spotting and consistent browning
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Catalogue Note

In 1890 Beatrix Potter was encouraged by her uncle, Henry Roscoe, to offer some of her artwork for sale. After a packet of designs was rejected by the firm of Marcus Ward, Potter sent them to Hildesheimer and Faulkner who responded with a cheque. Potter noted in her diary for May 1890 that she "worked away at the Sketches much impeded by the criticisms of my relations and a severe bilious attack. I made several more in the style of the first…" (see The Journal of Beatrix Potter 1881-1897, London, 1989, p. 213). Hildesheimer and Faulkner would indeed publish a number of cards with designs by Beatrix Potter and also her first book, A Happy Pair.

This present example, thought to date from this time, concerns the escapades of two rabbits in the snow.

There have been a number of other similar scenes with the snowy doorway and the rabbit’s sledge occurring elsewhere.

The snowy doorway, for example, occurs in a scene showing a rabbit arriving with Christmas presents (National Trust, HIL RD99) and, also, leaving having delivered presents (National Trust, HIL RD120). The National Trust also owns a pencil and watercolour image of a rabbit finding a basket of food on his snowy doorstep (no owner's reference). A version of this was used for Changing Pictures, published by Nister in 1894.

The V&A Museum owns a fine watercolour of four rabbits in the snow, one dressed in a red jacket pulling a sledge (VA1008). There is also a pair of watercolours in the Free Library of Philadelphia (RBD BP ART 10a) showing two rabbits playing with, and then having fallen off, a sledge (see also Sotheby’s, 14 July 2011, lot 143).

Similar scenes have also been available at auction, for example, "Building a Snowman" (Christie's South Kensington, 18 July 2012, lot 714).

English Literature, History, Children's Books & Illustrations

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London