In this illustration taken from her second book for children, The Tailor of Gloucester
, Beatrix Potter shows the mice busily sewing by candlelight, as seen through the eyes of the tailor’s cat, Simpkin, peering through the window: ‘There was a snippeting of scissors, and snappeting of thread; and little mouse voices sang loudly and gaily’. Potter’s illustrations combine keen observation and detail with fantastical elements to great and endearing effect.
Helen Beatrix Potter
The Mice Sewing the Mayor's Coat
Date of work
Original: Ink, watercolour and gouache on paper. 9.2 x 11.1 cm Tate. Presented by Capt. K.W.G Duke RN 1946
Helen Beatrix Potter (1866 –1943) was a British writer, illustrator, natural scientist and conservationist. Potter's study and watercolours of fungi led to her being widely respected in the field of mycology, but she is best known for the successful series of children's books the wrote and illustrated, including The Tale of Peter Rabbit
, The Tailor of Gloucester
and The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin
. 22 of her illustrations for The Tailor of Gloucester
form part of Tate’s collection, and can be viewed by appointment in Tate Britain’s Prints and Drawings Room.