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Private world of Beatrix Potter revealed at Sotheby's sale
Bertram, Beatrix and Rupert Potter, 13 September, 1903. Photo: Sotheby's.

LONDON.- This week, Sotheby’s London sale of English Literature, History, Children’s Books and Illustrations will include a collection of over 200 photographs providing a glimpse into the personal life of one of the world’s most loved children’s authors, Beatrix Potter.

Spanning forty years, from Beatrix’s childhood to middle age, the collection shows Beatrix at leisure, charting her family life, friends, holidays in Scotland, and life in her beloved Lake District. As expected, in many of the photographs Beatrix is pictured alongside her family pets and various dogs and rabbits, including Benjamin Bunny himself.

Among the highlights are Beatrix’s personal copies of the most famous photograph ever taken of her, showing the author standing in the doorway of her much-loved Lake District Home, Hill Top Farm. They come in an envelope addressed to Beatrix from the photographer, Charles King.

Most of the photos however are taken by Beatrix’s father, Rupert Potter, a gifted amateur photographer who first took up photography in the early 1860s when it was still a relatively new art form. His images were the subject of a National Portrait Gallery exhibition in 2012.

Rupert was a great friend of the Pre-Raphaelite painter John Millais, and often helped him by photographing landscapes or people, such as William Gladstone, for his paintings and portraits. Millais is said to have inspired and encouraged Beatrix’s artistic talents when she was a child, and he features in many photos in this collection along with other leading figures and luminaries of the day including author William Gaskell, and the politician John Bright.

The sale also features several other Beatrix Potter related lots, including an unrecorded drawing “Kitten Warming her Paws by the Kitchen Fire” and a rare Christmas card “Mice in a Coconut”.

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