By Edward Rothstein
Published: November 1, 2012
The New York Times, Art & Design Section
It was such a long time ago; and in another world,” Beatrix Potter writes, in a handwriting not all that different from the one she used in 1893, when she wrote a letter to a 5-year-old acquaintance about four little rabbits named Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Peter. But in this 1940 document about the origins of Peter Rabbit — shown in a suggestive, engrossing new exhibition at the Morgan Library & Museum, “Beatrix Potter: The Picture Letters” — she admits to being puzzled: “I never quite understood the secret of Peter’s perennial charm.”
But something happens as you work your way through this exhibition, looking at Potter’s images and reading her handwriting. The curator, John Bidwell, has gathered 22 illustrated letters that Potter wrote to children during her most creative years along with manuscripts, artwork and children’s toys, drawing from the Morgan’s collection, various private holdings, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Cotsen Children’s Library at Princeton. Read more.