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The Art of Beatrix Potter: Sketches,…
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The Art of Beatrix Potter: Sketches, Paintings, and Illustrations

by Emily Zach

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I have been delighted by many of the art books that Chronicle has published, and The Art of Beatrix Potter is no exception. The pages are heavy and only slightly glossy with rich and detailed full-color printing, making for a wonderful experience simply flipping through the pictures. The cover is also full-color with photographs and examples of the artist's work. It's honestly just a really lovely book.

What really makes me cherish it and very seriously considering buying copies for friends and family (I've already convinced a few to buy it on their own!) is the care given to the organization of the artwork and the accompanying text by Emily Zach.

Having worked in an art museum with access to quite a lot of exhibition catalogues and other art books, I find the different ways curators choose to organize the artwork on the page to be somewhat interesting or revealing. Viewing the art strictly chronologically, one artwork per page, is a very different experience than a book arranged by color, theme, or medium, or one with artwork in many different configurations. The different styles also invite the reader to focus on different aspects of the art, of course.

Zach has grouped Potter's work generally by the setting based on five major regions of England-Scotland-Wales where she spent most of her life. Within each grouping the artwork is mostly chronological, but not strictly so. The introduction explains that Potter lived in certain places at certain times of her life, occasionally returning to (say) Scotland or London for long periods, so the groupings work together to provide a biography through art, with some overlap as Potter moves around the island.

Potter is well-known for her children's book illustrations and somewhat less well-known for her mycological and other nature studies. As a fairly comprehensive look at her work, The Art of Beatrix Potter includes a variety of selections representing each of the different things she made but of course it simply can't reproduce every extant sketch or painting, even in the generous 300 pages. There is no running text through the book, instead there are captions for each image that show great care for the inclusions and explain why this image or that is worthwhile. As an example, there are at least two watercolors Potter created as a teenager that are included because they show the kind of places she lived and also demonstrate how her style evolved from heavy, deep tones to the famous airy washes. These paintings contrast with much later studies of buildings, gardens, or other landscapes that she made for the bunny books.

I read this book months ago and poured over the images with my friends, but couldn't write a review at the time because I didn't know how to succinctly describe how great it is - as a book and as an art collection. The quality is top-notch and it now lives with my other prized art books. It helps that I have some nostalgia for the bunny books from my childhood, but The Art of Beatrix Potter is worthwhile in its own right. ( )
  keristars | Sep 21, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
What a beautiful book! Well-designed with some truly lovely illustrations by Potter. Clearly a labor of love by Zach. I have never wanted to meet Potter before reading this book, but now I wish that I could talk to her about mycology. A very talented artist and scientist, and this work does her justice. ( )
  orangewords | Jul 4, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Beatrix Potter is best known for her sweet children's books, but many might not realize she was a talented illustrator as well. The famous images from books like "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" were all done by her. This book gives an in-depth look at her work. It's also filled with detailed descriptions of her life. Readers can learn about where she grew up and the areas that inspired her artwork. Each section is divided by the location in the U.K. where it takes place. You also read about her tragically short engagement and her relationships with her parents, all of which impacted her work.

There are luscious illustrations by Potter of animal scenes, landscapes, even some from classics like Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland. She also did studies of insects, mushrooms, and archeological discoveries and her burgeoning talent is clear in the earliest images.

BOTTOM LINE: This is such a lovely edition for any fan of Beatrix Potter, but it's also a treat for any artist or illustrator. ( )
  bookworm12 | May 9, 2017 |
I spent a good long respectful time examining the artwork and reading the background material. I had no idea how much there is to admire of Potter's accomplishments. She was a mycologist and also wrote a paper on the theory of lichen symbiosis, which was later proven true. She couldn't even present her own paper because she was female. ( )
  2wonderY | Apr 11, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I hate to click, "I'm finished" for this book. It is truly a treasure. I will go back to it again and again. I am grateful to have received a copy as a gift from LibraryThing. Beatrix Potter's artwork has so much more scope than just the children's books with which we are so familiar. My husband loves her wonderfully detailed mushroom watercolors. I love to fall into her delightful landscapes and cozy interiors. This book is so beautiful. I could wish for any of the illustrations to be framed for my home. The spare text provides interesting anecdotes and insight into her work. Not a biography it still opens up her life to us. A wonderful book for art lovers of all stripes and a special treat for Beatrix Potter lovers. ( )
  njcur | Mar 31, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 145215127X, Hardcover)

Published to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Beatrix Potter's birth, this magnificent collection celebrates the artist behind The Tale of Peter Rabbit and numerous other beloved children's books. Brimming with famous images and rarely seen gems—ranging from character sketches and notebook pages to watercolor landscapes and natural history illustrations—this monograph explores Potter's artistic process and reveals the places that inspired her timeless work. Organized geographically and featuring more than 200 images from the artist's oeuvre, The Art of Beatrix Potter includes illuminating essays by Potter scholar Linda Lear, illustration historian Steven Heller, and children's book illustrator Eleanor Taylor. It is the definitive volume on one of the world's most influential authors, a woman whose artistry, until now, has not been fully celebrated.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 07 Nov 2016 20:27:18 -0500)

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