BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated:  Tuesday, 1 April, 2003, 17:49 GMT 18:49 UK
Potter paintings fetch 40,000
Peter Rabbit Copyright: Frederick Warne & Co, 1902
The first Peter Rabbit book was published in 1902
Two early watercolours by Beatrix Potter, that hint at the children's stories she was to create later in life, have been sold for more than 40,000.

The illustrations, created in 1892 or 1893 but never published, were sold at Bonhams' New Bond Street salesroom in central London.

The paintings were probably intended as Christmas cards and show a pair of snow scenes both involving two rabbits wearing blue and red jackets.

The first painting, in which the two characters are building a snowman, went under the hammer for 21,510.

The second watercolour, which featured two figures about to start a snowball fight, sold for 19,120.

Both were bought by a rare book dealer based in Henley on Thames, which specialises in Potter's work.

The paintings were created about 10 years before Potter published her first book Peter Rabbit in 1902.

Picture letter

Melanie Way, book specialist at Bonhams, said: "They are very early illustrations and the characters seem very similar to the famous Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny.

"Having an original illustration is a collector's dream."

In 1893, the Peter Rabbit book began life as a picture letter to her former governess who had been sick with scarlet fever.

Potter wrote: "I don't know what to write you, so I shall tell you the story about four little rabbits, whose names were Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, and Peter..."

Seven years later Potter decided that the story would make a good book for children and the following year published it herself before she found a publisher in 1902.

She went on to create about 20 other well-loved children's tales involving animals.

Potter would write out her stories in an exercise book, paste in a few watercolours and a number of pen-and-ink sketches and then present it as a gift to a favoured child.

In this way, she was able to try out her books on real children first but she would borrow the little books back while working on the finished illustrations.

Windfall as Peter Rabbit turns 100
11 Jul 02  |  England

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | World | UK | England | Northern Ireland | Scotland | Wales | Politics
Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health | Education
Have Your Say | Magazine | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific