This year's Beatrix Potter exhibition

The pelt of Beatrix Potter's pet rabbit, Benjamin Bouncer, on display at the Beatrix Potter Gallery, Cumbria

Our Exhibition this year ‘Realism and Romance’ explores Beatrix Potter’s love of the natural world.

The natural world brings together each strand of Beatrix Potter’s life, be it Art, scientific study, illustration, farming or conservation work. So during this 150th anniversary of her birth, it provides the ideal theme to run through our exhibition.

From the earliest memories of escapes to Scotland, to her final thoughts and words here in the Lake District; nature provided inspiration, sanctuary and ultimately the peace and contentment Beatrix craved. 

Captivated 

From the majestically sweeping views across the Newlands Valley which form the backdrop to illustrations in The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-winkle, to the minute detail of a single fungus spore, Beatrix was captivated by the natural world. She had an almost obsessive desire to commit to paper anything that caught her eye.

If this obsession with recording the detail of the natural world is her ‘realism’ then her ability to create a world of fantasy, inhabited by creatures busily engaged in their own adventures, provides the ‘romance’.

 
" I do not remember a time when I did not try to invent pictures and make fairy tales – amongst the wild flowers, the animals, trees and mosses and fungi ..."
- Beatrix Potter, Letter to Bertha Mahoney Miller 1940

 

Detailed observations 

Nature infuses the Tales and seeps into the illustrations, which are full of detailed observations of plant and animal life. These add great richness to the books and lend a sense of reality to the fantasy of the stories.

Echoing the style of the Pre-Raphaelite artists whose attention to detail she much admired, the backgrounds of the illustrations often feature recognisable scenery; such as Mr. Jeremy Fisher pushing his water lily boat out onto Esthwaite water with the familiar outline of the Langdale Pikes as a back drop. 

 

Fungus, fairies and fantasy

So you’ll need to suspend your disbelief as you step into the exhibition this year. Beatrix Potter’s imaginings return us to a time when it was possible for fairies to dance among the spring bluebells, for tiny fungus folk to laugh and scamper through the autumn leaves and of course, for rabbits to wear little blue jackets with brass buttons. 

 
Beatrix Potter as an older woman in the Hill Top garden with one of her sheepdogs

Celebrating Beatrix Potter's anniversary in the Lake District 

2016 marks a special anniversary for us in the Lake District as it's 150 years since Beatrix Potter was born. We’ve got lots to celebrate - see what’s planned and how you can get involved.