Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic
9 February – 14 April 2019
Bunkamura The Museum
The story of Christopher Robin, his beloved teddy bear and friends was written by A. A. Milne and illustrated by E. H. Shepard. First published in Britain in 1926 and translated into more than 50 languages, their stories full of wit and charm have been one of the most famous and favourite children’s books of all time.
A.A. Milne, Christopher Robin Milne and Pooh Bear, by Howard Coster, 1926 © National Portrait Gallery, London.
In 1973, Shepard donated over 270 items such as his original drawings to the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London. This show, organized by V&A, is the first exhibition on Winnie-the-Pooh primarily drawn from this precious collection.
E.H. Shepard, photograph by Howard Coster, 1932, given by Mrs Norah Shepard © National Portrait Gallery, London.
Since 2018 the show has been touring from V&A, to the High Museum in Atlanta and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (through 6 Jan 2019), and will be finally coming to Japan in February 2019.
The exhibit will explore the creative relationship between Milne and Shepard and the enduring appeal of the classic Winnie-the-Pooh stories – while also touching upon its marketing bonanza – through original drawings, manuscripts, proofs and early editions, letters, photographs, cartoons, ceramics and fashion.
So get ready to venture into the Hundred Acre Wood, soon to be unfolded in Shibuya, with playful, immersive displays.
‘And pulled and pulled at his boot… The first person he met was Rabbit’ Winnie-the-Pooh chapter 8, pencil drawing by E. H. Shepard, 1926
© The Shepard Trust
Highlights of the Winnie-the-Pooh exhibition
Milne was inspired by his own son and stuffed toys
Christopher Robin Milne was the only child born between his father A.A. Milne and his mother Daphne. Winnie-the-Pooh, also called Pooh Bear, was his favourite teddy bear. In the kid’s room, Pooh had his companions – Eeyore, Kanga and Roo, Piglet, Tigger and other friends.
‘Bump, bump, bump’, Winnie-the-Pooh chapter 1, pencil drawing by E. H. Shepard, 1926 © The Shepard Trust
While watching Christopher Robin playing with them, his father recorded their adventure, to create stories for his son.
The Milne family spent weekends on the Ashdown Forest located in the suburbs of London, which became the place of Christopher Robin’s expedition with his toy friends.
Milne invited Shepard to visit there and sketch the forest, Christopher Robin and his stuffed toys in real life. Shepard also drew his inspiration from his own son and his toy bear Growler.
Christopher Robin in the bath, Winnie-the-Pooh, chapter 1, pencil drawing by E. H. Shepard, 1926© The Shepard Trust. Image courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Teddy Bear manufactured by Margarete Steiff ca. 1906-1910. Stuffed and sewn mohair plush. Bequeathed by Miss Z. N. Ziegler. © Image courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Sketch for the end-paper of Winnie-the-Pooh, showing a map of the Hundred-Acre Wood, pencil drawing by E. H. Shepard, 1926 © The Shepard Trust. Image courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Gentle stories of childhood
When telling a whimsical story full of imagination to his son sitting by the fireplace, A. A. Milne was nostalgic for his own happy childhood.
Pulling Pooh from the hole, Winnie-the-Pooh, chapter 2, pencil drawing by E. H. Shepard, 1926© The Shepard Trust. Image courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London
‘Come on Tigger, it’s easy’, The House at Pooh Corner chapter 4, pencil drawing by E.H. Shepard, 1928 © The Shepard Trust. Image courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London
‘The bees are getting suspicious, Winnie-the-Pooh chapter 1, pencil drawing by E. H. Shepard, 1926 © The Shepard Trust
Witty prose brought to life with skillful, expressive drawings
Shepard was a genius to interpret the written stories and to bring the nascent characters to life with his delicate drawings. This was a key to the success of the Winnie-the-Pooh storybooks.
‘Pooh and Piglet go hunting’, Winnie-the-Pooh chapter 3, pen and ink sketch by E. H. Shepard, 1926. From the collection of Clive and Alison Beecham © The Shepard Trust
‘For a long time they looked at the river beneath them’, House at Pooh Corner chapter 6, pencil drawing by E. H. Shepard, 1928.
Collection of James DuBose © The Shepard Trust
Publication of the Pooh books
The four Pooh books, starting with “Winnie-the-Pooh” (1926), have become tremendously popular, especially with the advent of affordable paperbacks.
Winnie-the-Pooh first edition, 1926; published in London by Methuen & Co. Ltd; printed by Jarrold & Sons Ltd © Image courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London
In 1970 when Shepard was in his 90s, he added watercolour to some of his black-and-white drawings, suggested by the publisher Frank Herrmann.
‘Pooh sitting on his branch… beside him, ten pots of honey’ Winnie-the-Pooh chapter 9, line block print, hand coloured by E.H. Shepard, 1970
© E H Shepard colouring 1970 and 1973 © Ernest H. Shepard and Egmont UK Limited
Pooh as a commercial brand
In 1930, Stephen Slesinger, an American entrepreneur, concluded a licensing agreement with Milne, to produce toys and other merchandise based on Pooh and his friends – which became an instant, mega success.
In 1966 the Walt Disney Co. animated the story of Pooh, making it into an extremely profitable business.
Pooh and his friends as commercial characters are everywhere, including teaware and cookbooks.
Winnie the Pooh saki cups, blue & white porcelain, made by Hasami for the Walt Disney Corporation, c. 2014 © Image courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London*
(*クマのプーさん波佐見焼染付そば猪口、ウォルト・ディズニー社のために製造、 2014年頃、V&A所蔵 © Image courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London)
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