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Kittens with game collected for the White Cat's supper

  • Object:

    drawing

  • Date:

    ca.1894 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

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

  • Materials and Techniques:

    watercolour and pen and ink on paper

  • Museum number:

    BP.1473(B)

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C, case MB2H, shelf DR33

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.

Before publishing her own stories from 1901, Potter illustrated fables, fairy tales and classic texts, such as Uncle Remus, Alice in Wonderland and Cinderella. She drew largely to amuse herself, or children she knew, but also to develop her illustrative technique. Her interpretations of these well-known texts are always fresh, original, and faithful to the true nature and appearance of animals.

This design illustrates ‘The White Cat’, a fairy tale by the Countess d’Aulnoy. Potter inscribed one of the four sheets relating to the tale in the Linder Bequest: ‘Hertfordshire’. As such, the drawings were probably made during one of Potter’s 1894 visits to Camfield Place in Hertfordshire, the country home of her paternal grandparents, the surrounding landscape, seen with a covering snow, included within her illustrations. Writing in her journal Potter called Camfield, ‘the place I love best in the world’.

Another drawing related to this group was published in a booklet by the firm of Ernest Nister, who published some of Potter’s drawings within their children’s publications of the 1890s. Their 1896 Holiday Annual, for example, included Potter’s series of drawings, ‘A Frog He Would a-Fishing Go’.

Anne Stevenson Hobbs suggested that the kittens included in Potter’s illustrations of ‘The White Cat’, with their guns and game-bag, might have been inspired by sporting prints. These early cat characters also seem to pre-empt Potter’s 1914 protagonist, the gun-wielding and boot-wearing cat in Kitty in Boots (not published during Potter’s lifetime).

Physical description

An illustration made on a thin sheet of paper with two tabby kittens sitting on a farmyard fence examining the contents of a game bag.

Date

ca.1894 (made)

Artist/maker

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

Materials and Techniques

watercolour and pen and ink on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'H.B.P.'
Inscribed by the artist, lower right.

'Subject 'The white cat' - Kittens collecting game for the White Cat's supper. HB Potter'
Inscription on verso of a mount no longer attached to this object according to Linder Bequest catalogue (see literature references).

Dimensions

Height: 173 mm sheet, Width: 120 mm sheet

Object history note

Drawn by Beatrix Potter, probably in Hertfordshire in 1894. 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

Watercolour and pen and ink drawing, an illustration to 'The White Cat' by the Countess d'Aulnoy, drawn by Beatrix Potter, ca.1894; Linder Bequest cat. no. LB.985(b).

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.109; no.985(b)
p.109; no.985(b)
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.
Anne Stevenson Hobbs, Beatrix Potter: artist & illustrator, Frederick Warne & Co Ltd, 2005, p.90 (reproduced in colour)
p.90 (reproduced in colour)
Beatrix Potter: artist & illustrator Frederick Warne & Co Ltd, 2005

Materials

Ink; Paper; Watercolour

Techniques

Drawn

Subjects depicted

Jackets; Kittens; Guns; Anthropomorphism; Snow; Fences; Illustrations; Cats; Hunting; Bags; Game; Fairy tales; Farmyards

Categories

Drawings; Illustration

Production Type

Unique

Collection

Archive of Art and Design

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