Surrey illustrator celebrated in exhibition about all things Pooh
AS part of the largest ever Winnie-the-Pooh exhibition, original drawings by Surrey artist EH Shepard will go on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A).
The exhibition, themed around AA Milne’s charismatic bear, is titled Winniethe-Pooh: Exploring a Classic. It will look at how Shepard produced enduring illustrations, combining expressive line with white space and an understated humour matching that of the author.
The exhibition will run from December 9 to April 8 in gallery 38 at the museum.
Shepard was born in 1879 and moved to Shamley Green shortly after marrying, in 1904.
Milne and Shepard were introduced in 1923 and, at first, Milne was unsure of whether the illustrations were in the style he was looking for.
Milne used Shepard to illustrate the book of poems When We Were Very Young and, happy with the results, insisted he illustrate for the first collection of Winnie-thePooh stories in 1926.
It is believed that Shepard modelled Pooh Bear on a stuffed bear named Growler, which was owned by his own son.
In 1972, four years before his death aged 96, Shepard gave his personal collection of papers and illustrations to the University of Surrey.
Former Labour MP Tristram Hunt, now director of the V&A, said: “I’m delighted Winnie-the-Pooh is being celebrated at the V&A.
“From the world’s largest collection of EH Shepard’s Winnie-the-Pooh pencil drawings, to homemade honey from our rooftops in South Kensington, the V&A is the perfect home for Pooh.”
The V&A has collected children’s books since its inception in 1852 and has the largest collection of EH Shepard’s Winnie-the-Pooh pencil drawings in the world.
Spanning more than 90 years of history of the popular British bear, the exhibition delves into the archives of the V&A, The Walt Disney Company, Egmont Publishing, The Shepard Trust and The University of Surrey, to feature around 230 works from 1920 to the present day.
Items of international significance will be on show, including original illustrations, manuscripts, proofs and early editions, letters, photographs, cartoons, ceramics and fashion, all featuring the much-loved character and his friends Christopher Robin, Eeyore, Kanga and Roo, Owl, Piglet, Rabbit and Tigger.
And, for the first time, the pencil sketch and the pen and ink drawing of the celebrated ‘Poohsticks’ illustration, featuring Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet and Christopher Robin, will go on display side by side.
There will also be video and audio clips, including a 1929 recording of Milne reading Winnie-the-Pooh.
‘Bump, bump, bump’, Winnie-the-Pooh chapter 1, pencil drawing by EH Shepard, 1926. © The Shepard Trust, reproduced with permission from Curtis Brown.