Pioneering feminists in the arts: Beatrix Potter

Beth Robson shares her most admired pioneering women in the arts; Beatrix Potter.

Beth Robson
23rd March 2020
Image: flickr

Each of Beatrix Potter’s paintings and sketches are masterfully put to paper with care and immense skill; somehow captivatingly enchanting with each precise stroke. The beauty in Potter’s art is its ability to capture reality whilst simultaneously transporting her readership to the whimsical world of her beloved characters. Based on her observations of living in the ever-beautiful Lake District, Potter was able to capture nature in all of it’s raw beauty and grace; from the trees bustling in the Northern winds, to the twitching whiskers of the iconic Peter Rabbit. Her paintings speak for themselves and tell stories that many artists attempt but seldom achieve; to create a world so vivid as Potter’s without even so much as writing a word.

You cannot do Potter’s art any justice without mentioning the work she did for science and conservation. In her earlier years, Potter dedicated her talents to painting scientific illustrations of fungi which she studied as a keen part of her interest in mycology. Talented and passionate in the field, Potter’s observations were nonetheless disregarded by her male counterparts on the basis of her sex but continue to influence scientific illustration to this day.

Talented and passionate in the field, Potter’s observations were nonetheless disregarded by her male counterparts on the basis of her sex

Without Potters insistence and endless efforts, much of the beauty in the Lake District that we have the pleasure of seeing today and have inspired countless pieces of art, would not exist. A firm believer in preserving natural scenes of beauty, Potter is often cited as a founding inspiration for the National Trust. Dedicating much of her life to the preservation of fell-life, the countryside, and artistic Lancastrian tradition, Potter bought, restored, and managed countless properties for the National Trust. When Potter passed in December of 1943, she left nearly all of her properties to the National Trust thus enabling the conservation of what is now the Lake District National Park.

Potter’s tenacity in her causes, art, and writing career are no doubt enough to herald her a pioneering woman of arts and culture. Before her time, she did not let the restrictions of her gender prevent her from making valuable contributions to some of the most beautiful places in the UK and shaping millions of children’s childhoods through her enthralling and whimsical tales.

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