An unseen illustration from Beatrix Potter, the British children's book author best known for her 1902 The Tale of Peter Rabbit, will go on display at the Victoria and Albert museum on May 2nd in honor of the writer's 150th birthday. Painted circa 1914, the watercolor was meant to be part of Potter's recently discovered story, The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots, which was about "a well-behaved prime black Kitty cat, who leads rather a double life." In the illustration, Peter Rabbit, in his trademark blue jacket with brass buttons (quite new), can be seen shooing away some "villainous" ferrets.
The uncompleted watercolour, which is owned by a private collector and will be seen for the first time on loan to the exhibition, was identified by curator Emma Laws as a study for a project known only from draft manuscripts of the text, one finished drawing and two rough sketches.
Laws recognised the scene not just from the figure of Peter Rabbit, Potter’s most famous character, but because she was already working on the text of the story, part of a collection of Potter drawings and manuscripts bequeathed to the museum in 1973 by the scholar and enthusiast Leslie Linder.
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Feature image via Frederick Warne & Co.