Beatrix Potter (1866-1943) drew from an early age, both from nature and from her imagination, often combining the two. From the early 1880's, she made a number of careful studies of bats, lizards and fish, then of insects and spiders, fossils and fungi. Some were wild specimens, but many were pets. Her best-known drawings are of rabbits and mice. 'Benjamin Bouncer' was the inspiration for her first greetings card designs (1890) and the source of her first independent income; a later rabbit, 'Peter Piper', appears in scenes from Alice and Uncle Remus, and then in the Tale of Peter Rabbit (1902), the first of her famous 'Little Books'.
Beatrix Potter grew 'a little tired of rabbits', and came to prefer mice, doormice and voles, as single 'specimens', as sheets of studies in various positions, or, like the rabbits, as protagonists in fairy tale or nursey rhyme illustrations and in her animal fantasies, where they remain faithfully naturalistic.
This drawing may well have been done during a visit to Camfield Place, near Hatfield in Hertfordshire, the house of her paternal grandparents; it is inscribed (on the verso): Oct 29 87. The paper is slightly thicker and more tinted than that used for most of her other natural history studies, except for the larger, more showy finished works done of mechanical wood pulp board. The treatment of eyes, ears and claws are all characteristic; typically, she has used white highlights to render the texture of fur.
We are grateful to Anne Wright for her help in preparing this catalogue entry and we are also grateful to Daphne Mills the curator of the Mammal Group department of Zoology at the Natural History museum, London for her assistance in identifying this mouse.