Page last updated at 09:26 GMT, Friday, 18 July 2008 10:26 UK

Potter illustration sets record

The illustration was estimated to sell for between 40,000 and 60,000.

An original watercolour illustration by children's author Beatrix Potter has set a new record after selling for 289,250 at a London auction.

The Rabbits' Christmas Party fetched nearly five times its pre-sale estimate making it the most expensive book illustration ever sold at auction.

Painted by Potter in the 1890s, it depicts a group of rabbits enjoying a traditional Christmas.

Auction house Sotheby's said the buyer was a private British collector.

"We are absolutely thrilled with the price achieved for this unique watercolour," said Dr Philip W Errington, Sotheby's specialist in children's books and illustrations.

"The painting is one of the finest original artworks by the author and artist Beatrix Potter to be offered for sale at auction."

The watercolour was one of 20 Potter illustrations, books, Christmas cards and letters offered for sale from a collection belonging to her brother, Bertram Potter.

The entire collection, the most extensive body of Beatrix Potter artwork to have appeared on the market in decades, raised a total of 748,200.

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