Page last updated at 08:52 GMT, Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Potter painting fetches 15,600

Beatrix Potter illustration
It is the first time the watercolour has been seen at auction

A watercolour of a rabbit painted by Beatrix Potter has been sold at auction in London for 15,600.

The unnamed rabbit had been expected to fetch 10,000-15,000 at the sale, despite not being as famous as Potter's Benjamin Bunny and Peter Rabbit.

The bunny depicted in the painting never appeared in any of Potter's published books.

A Christmas card designed by Potter, featuring three guinea pigs, doubled its pre-sale estimate to make 12,600.

'Huge demand'

The rabbit watercolour depicts a female bunny with a pink ribbon tied around her neck, drinking daintily from a teacup.

Ahead of the auction, Alexandra Ault of Bonhams' watercolours department said: "Potter's world was by no means limited to that of Peter Rabbit and his published friends.

"Just as important are the unnamed little mice, rabbits and cats that appeared in finished watercolours.

"Their unique charm and the infrequency with which they appear at auction creates a huge demand for this type of Beatrix's work."

Although better known for her children's books, Bonhams said Potter's earliest commercial works were in fact Christmas cards.

In July, another watercolour by Potter set a new record after selling for 289,250 at 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.

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