Beatrix Potter

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Beatrix Potter
Leaves and Flowers of the Orchid Cactus
Watercolor and pencil on paper.
11 1/8 x 14 7/8 inches (28.3 x 37.7 cm)
Gift of Charles Ryskamp in honor of Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Morgan Library and the 50th anniversary of the Association of Fellows.

Signed with initials and dated at lower left, in pencil, "H. B. P. 1886"; inscribed on verso, in pencil, "At Camfield / Given to Miss Hammond. '87 / Helen Beatrix Potter".

Sale, London, Sotheby's, 6 April 1979, lot 633; Charles Ryskamp, Princeton.

The creator of The Peter Rabbit series was an avid student of nature, and from an early age she made meticulous drawings in pencil and watercolor of the flora and fauna in her family's and friends' gardens. In this drawing, Potter depicts an orchid cactus (Epiphyllum phyllanthus), a plant native to Central and South America but which thrives as a houseplant in more temperate climates. An inscription on the verso of the drawing--"At Camfield," her grandparents' country home north of London--suggests that it likely was in such a setting that she encountered the plant.

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