POTTER, BEATRIX Large original double-sided watercolor of a Pussy-Cat House.
Watercolor on a board cut to the shape of a house and fence, the recto depicting a goat-driven fish cart (separately drawn and overlaid) with several hanging birds and a cat weighing fish at a scale, the door of the house open revealing Mrs. Pussy-Cat and three kittens; the verso showing the scene from within the yard of the house with Mrs. Pussy-Cat facing away and an additional standing cat shown within the house, the yard full of colored flowers and foliage. Signed in pencil at lower right "HBP" and with the faint year "95" [reportedly May 1895, see note). 9 3/8 x 12 inches (24 x 30 cm); presented in double-sided frame with stand. Split and repair to the brick fence post at left, a few abraded areas with small losses, minor spotting, very well preserved for such a fragile work.
Provenance: Beatrix Potter gift to Noel Moore circa May 1895; sold by Moore in 1947 to Urling Sibley Iselin (dedicatee of Jane Quinby's 1954 Potter bibliography); Reportedly offered by Iselin heirs at Sotheby Parke Bernet, 5 June 1973, lot 169 but withdrawn (a differing Potter is listed in RBH with this lot number); Sold as one of a pair (with an unsigned watercolor) at Sotheby's London, 9 June 1975, lot 1332; acquired for the personal collection of Justin Schiller about 1975; purchased by Mary K. Young, 1987
Exhibited: reportedly exhibited three times in 1977 at The Grey Gallery at New York University; The Osborne Collection at Toronto Public Library; and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts; a copy of a 1991 letter enclosed from Justin Schiller, Ltd to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History makes arrangements for this drawing to be included in an exhibition; The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Beatrix Potter in America, 16 August-4 December 2005
A very early and large Beatrix Potter double-sided watercolor gifted to Noel Moore (whose mother had been Potter's governess) in 1895 just two years following the original Peter Rabbit picture letter. Potter was just three years younger than her governess and tutor Anne Moore and the two became quite close. Beatrix began writing to Moore's first born son Noel in 1892 when he was about 4 years old and in the mid-1890s is known to have sent a few of these large format works, some of which had movable parts such as the onlaid fish cart in the present work. (Noel would contract polio in 1897 and suffered a limp for the rest of his life; he became a priest, serving the poor children and the handicapped.) As Noel was the recipient of the original Peter Rabbit picture letter his provenance is considered the finest possible for works by Potter, and this work was acknowledged by Justin Schiller in 1987 to be "the most important single drawing by Beatrix Potter to come onto the marketplace during the past twenty plus years..." A smaller ink version of this scene was used in The Fairy Caravan, 1929, Chapter XXI.
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C The Mary K. Young Collection
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