New Record For Any Book Illustration Sold at Auction

LONDON – At Sotheby’s London, Beatrix Potter’s original watercolour illustration for the final scene from “The Rabbit’ Christmas Party” sequence sold for the remarkable sum of £289,250 – almost five times its pre-sale high estimate (est. £40,000-60,000) – setting a new record for any book illustration sold at auction.

Commenting on the sale of the watercolour, Dr Philip W. Errington, Sotheby’s specialist in Children’s Books and Illustrations, said: “We are absolutely thrilled with the price achieved for this unique watercolour. The painting is one of the finest original artworks by the author and artist, Beatrix Potter, to be offered for sale at auction.”

The watercolour was one of 20 original illustrations, books, unpublished Christmas cards and letters by Beatrix Potter that originate from the collection of the artist’s brother, Bertram Potter (1872-1918), which were offered for sale in today’s auction of English Literature and History. The whole collection, which represents the most extensive group of Beatrix Potter artwork to have appeared on the market in living memory, realised a total of £748,200.

From the same collection, an abandoned watercolour for The Tale of Peter Rabbit, which was later redrawn for publication, sold for £32,450 – more than double its pre-sale low estimate (est. £15,000-20,000). This earlier version has never been reproduced and is the only contemporary Beatrix Potter illustration for her Peter Rabbit likely to be offered for sale. Pre-sale estimates do not include buyer’s premium.