Thursday, 28 July 2016

Beatrix Potter's archaeological paintings

Beatrix Potter was born in London 150 years ago today. Did you know that before she became the celebrated children's author and illustrator, she developed her skills as an artist by making studies of archaeological finds?

Her watercolours include Roman and post-Roman finds from the Bucklersbury excavations of 1872-3 (adjacent to Mansion House, City of London), and from Pickle Herring Street in Southwark. The drawings are impressive in their detail and accuracy, as well as beauty, and it is clear to see how these studies helped the young Beatrix Potter develop into the skilled illustrator of Peter Rabbit and so many other beloved characters.

A comparative study of nails, 1895 (Jay; Hall, inside cover image)
Roman archaeological finds, including rings, needles, spoons, a chain and a comb, 1895 (Barnard p.63)
Roman leather shoe, 1895 (Barnard p.65)

Jay, E; Hall, J, The tale of London past : Beatrix Potter's archaeological paintings, from the Armitt Collection, Ambleside (London, 1990)
Barnard, B, 'Before Peter Rabbit' The Independent magazine (27.10.1990) 112 pp.62-65

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