'Oh no! Miss Pussy, you'd bite off our heads'

Mount
ca. 1892 (drawn)
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Artist/Maker

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.

A number of Beatrix Potter’s narrative sequences of drawings were inspired by nursery rhymes. She explored the rhyme ‘Three little mice sat down to spin’ in around 1892, envisaging an illustrated booklet, possibly in a concertina format. She made detailed pen and ink studies and six finished watercolours: one for each line of the nursery rhyme (she omitted the last two lines of the usually eight-line rhyme). Potter also made a title-page and six decorated text pages. However, although the booklet reached this advanced stage of preparation it was never published. The fourth design, however, ‘Making coats for Gentlemen’, was adapted for her later book, The Tailor of Gloucester (1903).

The nursery rhyme, as she used it, reads:

Three little Mice sat down to spin
Pussy passed by, and she peeped in
‘What are you at, my fine little Men?’
‘Making coats for Gentlemen’
‘Shall I come in, and cut off your threads?’
‘Oh no! Miss Pussy, you’d bite off our heads’

This finished watercolour illustrates the line, ‘Oh no! Miss Pussy, you’d bite off our heads.’ For a related pen and ink study, see museum number BP.634(7).


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
watercolour and pen and ink on paper
Brief Description
Historic mount for BP.634 (13), watercolour showing three mice securing the window shutters, illustrating the rhyme 'Three little mice sat down to spin'; drawn by Beatrix Potter, ca.1892; Linder Bequest cat. no. LB.1071.
Physical Description
Watercolour and pen and ink drawing showing three mice securing the window shutters with iron bars.
Dimensions
  • Sheet height: 99mm
  • Sheet width: 139mm
Style
Production typeUnique
Marks and Inscriptions
'H.B.P.' (Inscribed in pencil by the artist, lower right.)
Object history
Drawn by Beatrix Potter, ca. 1892. 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.
Subjects depicted
Summary
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.



A number of Beatrix Potter’s narrative sequences of drawings were inspired by nursery rhymes. She explored the rhyme ‘Three little mice sat down to spin’ in around 1892, envisaging an illustrated booklet, possibly in a concertina format. She made detailed pen and ink studies and six finished watercolours: one for each line of the nursery rhyme (she omitted the last two lines of the usually eight-line rhyme). Potter also made a title-page and six decorated text pages. However, although the booklet reached this advanced stage of preparation it was never published. The fourth design, however, ‘Making coats for Gentlemen’, was adapted for her later book, The Tailor of Gloucester (1903).



The nursery rhyme, as she used it, reads:



Three little Mice sat down to spin

Pussy passed by, and she peeped in

‘What are you at, my fine little Men?’

‘Making coats for Gentlemen’

‘Shall I come in, and cut off your threads?’

‘Oh no! Miss Pussy, you’d bite off our heads’



This finished watercolour illustrates the line, ‘Oh no! Miss Pussy, you’d bite off our heads.’ For a related pen and ink study, see museum number BP.634(7).

Bibliographic References
  • 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.122; no.1071Hobbs, 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.122; no.1071
  • Taylor, Judy, Joyce Irene Whalley, Anne Stevenson Hobbs, Elizabeth M Battrick. Beatrix Potter 1866-1943: the Artist and Her World. 1987. London: Frederick Warne & Co.pp.55-6 (discussion of the series of drawings)Taylor, Judy, Joyce Irene Whalley, Anne Stevenson Hobbs, Elizabeth M Battrick. Beatrix Potter 1866-1943: the Artist and Her World. 1987. London: Frederick Warne & Co. pp.55-6 (discussion of the series of drawings)
  • Beatrix Potter: artist & illustrator Frederick Warne & Co Ltd, 2005p.93 (reproduced)Anne Stevenson Hobbs, Beatrix Potter: artist & illustrator, Frederick Warne & Co Ltd, 2005, p.93 (reproduced)
Other Number
LB.1071 - Linder Bequest catalogue no.
Collection
Library Number
BP.634(13)/I

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record createdJanuary 7, 2020
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