Details & Cataloguing

English Literature, History and Children's Books & Illustrations


Potter, Beatrix.

i) "A Fox went out one Moonlight night"; ii) "At last he came to a large Farm-yard"; iii) "Old Mother Slipper Slapper jumped out of bed"; iv) "At last he came to his old den | Where he had little ones nine or ten"; all average 100 by 135mm., ink drawings on square linen mats with fringes (external measurements 200 by 220mm.), captions on reverse (together with laundry mark), unsigned, some staining and soiling

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Catalogue Note

The four captions are numbered 1, 3, 6 and 10 respectively and illustrate the English nursery rhyme 'The Fox and the Goose' which is thought to date from the fifteenth century. One version of the song commences:

A fox jumped up one winter's night,
And begged the moon to give him light,
For he'd many miles to trot that night
Before he reached his den O!
        Den O! Den O!

(see Opie, I. and P. Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes, Oxford, 1983, pp.173-175).

Although the writing is in the hand of Beatrix Potter it is thought that the drawings themselves are probably not original compositions. The images themselves may have been copied from a mid nineteenth century German illustrated children's book, although this has not been verified. The Leslie Linder bequest of Beatrix Potter material at the V&A Museum includes a number of examples of the artist producing table mats (see Hobbs and Whalley 1875, 1876 and 1877). The Linder Bequest also includes rough studies thought to be additional scenes from the nursery rhyme.

Sotheby's would like to than Anne Stevenson Hobbs for her invaluable help with this lot.

English Literature, History and Children's Books & Illustrations