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drawing - Three mice running away from a kitten
  • Three mice running away from a kitten
    Potter, Beatrix, born 1866 - died 1943
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Three mice running away from a kitten

  • Object:

    drawing

  • Date:

    ca.1900 (drawn)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Potter, Beatrix, born 1866 - died 1943 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    pencil on paper

  • Museum number:

    BP.1015(v)

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Beatrix Potter (1866-1943) is one of the world's best-loved children's authors and illustrators. She wrote the majority of the twenty-three Original Peter Rabbit Books between 1901 and 1913. The Tale of Peter Rabbit (Frederick Warne, 1902) is her most famous and best-loved tale.

This undated sheet may be an early version of an illustration in The Tale of Johnny Town-mouse (1918), which was published just after the First World War had come to a close. The book is based on Aesop's fable of 'The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse'. Potter had previously produced illustrations to accompany this fable in about 1900 before becoming a published author and this preparatory sketch may also date from this period. The publication of this tale came after a period of great hardship. The First World War took its toll on the Home Front as well as mainland Europe. Potter was busy running her farm in the Lake District as well as managing her portfolio of other properties. She complained to her publisher of 'failing eyesight' but also struggled to find the time to produce new original stories and illustrations. Frederick Warne & Co. was however hit by scandal in 1917 after the fraudulent activities of one of the brothers was discovered. Potter agreed to step up her production and help out the firm as one of their most popular authors and a personal friend of the family.

The tale centres around the idea that people (or mice) will find their natural affinity to either a town or country life. Having experienced both in her life, the final words of the tale reveal Potter's affiliation: 'For my part I prefer to live in the country, like Timmy Willie'.

The illustration that this sketch seems to relate to sees two of the town mice holding plates of food and being chased by the cat; however, in this study three mice run away from the kitten and only one of the mice carries something. Mice feature in a number of Potter’s other tales and there is another illustration with a similar composition showing mice running away in The Tale of Two Bad Mice (1904), however, in this case the mice run away from two dolls rather than from a cat.

Physical description

Pencil drawing of three mice running away from a kitten, with the kitten in the upper left of the sheet and the three mice in the lower right.

Date

ca.1900 (drawn)

Artist/maker

Potter, Beatrix, born 1866 - died 1943 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

pencil on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'4 5 6'
Written in pencil, lower left.

Dimensions

Height: 163 mm sheet, Width: 98 mm sheet

Object history note

Drawn by Beatrix Potter, ca.1900. Acquired by the V&A from Leslie Linder (1904-1973) in 1973 as part of the Linder Bequest, a collection of ca. 2150 watercolours, drawings, literary manuscripts, correspondence, books, photographs, and other memorabilia associated with Beatrix Potter and her family.

Descriptive line

Pencil sketch of three mice running away from a kitten by Beatrix Potter, ca.1900; Linder Bequest cat. no. LB.1015.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Hobbs, Anne Stevenson, and Joyce Irene Whalley, eds. Beatrix Potter: the V & A collection: the Leslie Linder bequest of Beatrix Potter material: watercolours, drawings, manuscripts, books, photographs and memorabilia. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1985. p.114. no.1015
p.114. no.1015
Hobbs, Anne Stevenson, and Joyce Irene Whalley, eds. Beatrix Potter: the V & A collection : the Leslie Linder bequest of Beatrix Potter material : watercolours, drawings, manuscripts, books, photographs and memorabilia. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1985.

Materials

Pencil; Paper

Techniques

Drawn

Subjects depicted

Kittens; Animals; Mouse; Illustrations; Mice; Cats

Categories

Drawings

Production Type

Unique

Collection

Archive of Art and Design

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