Beatrix: Beatrix Potter and John Everett Millais Essay

Submitted By wallacejd
Words: 413
Pages: 2

yoHe also rendered her an even greater service than keeping her record. His friend, the painter John Everett Millais, deputed Rupert Potter to photograph landscapes that Millais could use as backgrounds in canvases. He also asked him to take, for reference, “likenesses” of the more important sitters (Gladstone, for example), to save them having to sit so often and long. On some of these forays Beatrix went along with her father. She met Millais in his studio, he perceived her talent and interest, and he bared to her the very soul of working in oils – how to mix paint.

The creatures, the countryside and its enchanting details, the smell of the palette – by and large, this jigsaw of childhood experiences pieces together Beatrix Potter’s early adult portrait. That same leaning toward science that she practised in dissections and anatomical drawings, also led her into botany; look at the rich and accurate flora alongside her rabbits and pigs and foxes.

Several years ago, an Irish agricultural scientist, Fionnbhar O’Riordain, alerted me to the game of finding where mushrooms appear in Beatrix Potter, because she had served a self-taught but distinguished apprenticeship to mycology. He described her botanical work as “brilliant,” and authenticated his faith in her by making slides of her drawings.

A study of Hygrophorus puniceus, one of the many watercolours of mushrooms created by Potter and now residing at the Armitt Musuem – Source (NB: no indication of license on digital copy)
At 31 years of age, she had submitted a scientific paper to the respected Linnean Society in London. The Society’s practice was to have its papers read aloud by other than the…