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The World of Rupert Potter: Photographs of Beatrix, Millais and friends

Past display archive
13 May - 16 November 2014

Room 28: case display


The father of the children’s book author and illustrator Beatrix Potter, Rupert Potter (1832–1914) was a lawyer and a keen amateur photographer. Large numbers of his photographs survive in several collections, with the earliest dating to the 1860s. Carefully posed portraits of friends, family and landscapes taken during the Potters’ lengthy summer holidays were favoured subjects and exemplify his technical skill and aesthetic ability.

Potter also enjoyed drawing and collected art. He was a close friend of the painter Sir John Everett Millais, contributing photographs of sitters and the artist’s unfinished paintings to assist his working process. Beatrix’s journals from the 1880s and 1890s vividly reveal the influence of this relationship in her exposure to the art world and the life of a working artist before becoming one herself. She later used photography to aid her work, learning with one of her father’s old cameras: ‘A most inconveniently heavy article which he refuses to use’. With their mutual interests in art and photography, father and daughter enjoyed a close relationship and Rupert became a significant influence in Beatrix’s development as an artist and writer.

Commemorating the centenary of Rupert Potter’s death, this display includes two recent acquisitions among a selection from the National Portrait Gallery’s archive of 198 of his photographs.

Photographs Collection: Display

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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