Sunday, June 26, 2016

Cats in Art: Children Playing With a Cat (Molenaer)

From my continuing weekly Sunday series of cats in art.  Having moved on from Stefano Zuffi's marvelous work, The Cat in ArtI am now using some ideas from Caroline Bugler's equally impressive book, The Cat/3500 Years of the Cat in Art.  

This is the first of a series of posts featuring some art from Jan Miense Moleaer, a Dutch artist from the middle 1600s.




Image credit The Aetheneum, Children Playing with a Cat, Jan Miense Molenaer, ca. 1628, oil on canvas, 26" x 21", held by Musee des Beaux-Arts, Dunkerque.

Rather than go on at length, let's keep it very simple.  This rich, cheery, well-executed painting with its vibrant yet muted colors just makes me smile after nearly 400 years.

Bottom line: two happy Dutch kids.  One somewhat disgruntled Dutch cat.  A superb composition.

[Gary note: With my Cats in Arts posts, I encourage you to scope out the art appreciation site Artsy (I have no financial interest in the site, I just like it), where you can explore many aspects of the world of art.  You'll certainly be entertained and enlightened!]


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Cats in Art: Still Life with Fish and Cat (Peeters)

From my continuing weekly Sunday series of cats in art.  Having moved on from Stefano Zuffi's marvelous work, The Cat in ArtI am now using some ideas from Caroline Bugler's equally impressive book, The Cat/3500 Years of the Cat in Art.  

This is the second of two posts featuring some art from Clara Peeters, a Belgian artist from the early 1600s.


Image credit National Museum of Women in the Arts, Still Life of Fish and Cat, Clara Peeters, after 1620, oil on panel, 13" x 18", held by National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC.

As I pointed out last week, again we see a disconnect in title, although here it's the fairly small difference between "with" and "of."  While Bugler calls this image Still Life of Fish and Cat, all the Internet references I found call it Still Life With Fish and Cat.

Regardless, Caroline Bugler talks about Peeters' art:

A number show a live cat with fish and other seafood, and this is a typical example, with its assembly of relatively humbler objects and its restricted palette.  Peeters was skilled at rendering texture: here the carp/s slippery skin and the dull gleam of the ceramic colander make an interesting contrast with the cat's soft fur.  The vigilant feline, with its paws on a small fish, has a proprietorial air, its ears turned slightly to listen for an interloper who might whisk away its prize--could that be us, the viewer?

Compared to last week's post, this painting seems dark, gloomy and brooding...although that may simply be due to the accumulated centuries of grime and haze of hanging in one house versus a different house.  So perhaps Peeters' original painting was as bright as her similar painting that I featured last week.

As I said last week, this cat is rendered quite faithfully, watching protectively over some fishy bounty.  Clara Peeters--some 4 centuries ago--obviously knew her kitties.


[Gary note: With my Cats in Arts posts, I encourage you to scope out the art appreciation site Artsy (I have no financial interest in the site, I just like it), where you can explore many aspects of the world of art.  You'll certainly be entertained and enlightened!]


Sunday, June 12, 2016

Cats in Art: Still Life of Fish, Oysters and Crayfish with a Cat (Peeters)

From my continuing weekly Sunday series of cats in art.  Having moved on from Stefano Zuffi's marvelous work, The Cat in ArtI am now using some ideas from Caroline Bugler's equally impressive book, The Cat/3500 Years of the Cat in Art.  

This is the first of two posts featuring some art from Clara Peeters, a Belgian artist from the early 1600s.



Image credit WikimediaStill Life of Fish, Oysters and Crayfish with a Cat, Clara Peeters, 1615, oil on panel, 13" x 19", held in a private collection.

There are several interesting things about this painting.

First, this particular painting is known today as either Still Life of Fish, Oysters and Crayfish with a Cat, or the title really is A Still Life with Carp in a Ceramic Colander, Oysters, Crayfish, Roach and a Cat on the Ledge Beneath.  I opted for the former (shorter) title.

I think that all this confusion harks back to the fact that in 1615, artist Clara Peeters did not write her title of the painting on the back of it.  Thus it was left to later curators and art historians to come up with a descriptive title...some of which were in conflict.

Second, other than the Bugler book and the linked Wikimedia reference (and a similar one from Wikipedia), I could find no other images of this painting...perhaps because it is held in a private collection.

Third, in her book Caroline Bugler refers to this work as Still Life with Fish and Cat.  As it turns out, that title actually refers to a different painting, quite similar to the image above, which I will feature next week (it is held at the National Women's Museum of Art in Washington, DC).

Anyway, back to the Bugler book, where she talks about Peeters' art:

A number [of paintings] show a live cat with fish and other seafood, and this is a typical example, with its assembly of relatively humbler objects and its restricted palette.  Peeters was skilled at rendering texture: here the carp/s slippery skin and the dull gleam of the ceramic colander make an interesting contrast with the cat's soft fur.  The vigilant feline, with its paws on a small fish, has a proprietorial air, its ears turned slightly to listen for an interloper who might whisk away its prize--could that be us, the viewer?

My thoughts?  This painting is bright, alive and vibrant.  The kitty is rendered perfectly--the eyes, the ears, the posture, the attitude.  Here at my Sunday Cats in Art feature, if I said it once, I've said it a hundred times about a hundered different artists: Peeters must have had cats to have been able to render a kitty so perfectly.


[Gary note: With my Cats in Arts posts, I encourage you to scope out the art appreciation site Artsy (I have no financial interest in the site, I just like it), where you can explore many aspects of the world of art.  You'll certainly be entertained and enlightened!]


Sunday, June 5, 2016

Cats in Art: A Lion and Three Wolves (de Vos)

From my continuing weekly Sunday series of cats in art.  Having moved on from Stefano Zuffi's marvelous work, The Cat in ArtI am now using some ideas from Caroline Bugler's equally impressive book, The Cat/3500 Years of the Cat in Art.  

This is the third of three posts featuring some art from Paul de Vos.



Image credit Museo del Prado, Un Leon y Tres Lobos (A Lion and Three Wolves), Paul de Vos, ca 1640s, oil on canvas, 63" x 78", held by Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain.

The poor lion seems to be getting his clock cleaned by the wolves, although one doesn't know the next stage of the fight.  Perhaps the lion would slink off, leaving the kill to the canids.

And the lion seems a bit small, or the wolves a tad too large, thus enhancing the combat value.  Ordinarily I'd think a lion would have little trouble handling a trio of wolves...which brings upo the question as to whether wolves and lions do in fact overlap their ranges?  I think that's probable, but it would have been waaaaaay back before human ascendancy.

As with all the paintings I look at, I try to imagine time and place--what compelled the artist to paint this particular image?  Were wolves and lions a serious issue in Flanders in the 1600s?  Somehow I doubt it.  Did Paul and his wife (assuming he was married) sit around the kitchen table, and he says (in Flemish), "You know, honey, I think I'm going to paint a fight between a lion and a wolf."  Then she might have said, "Better make it three wolves--lions are tough, you know!  Make sure to put in a bloody dead sheep for shock value."

You get the idea.  I always, always, try to keep in mind that these paintings we see hundreds of years later were painted by people as real as you and me, not dusty figures partially lost in history.


[Gary note: With my Cats in Arts posts, I encourage you to scope out the art appreciation site Artsy (I have no financial interest in the site, I just like it), where you can explore many aspects of the world of art.  You'll certainly be entertained and enlightened!]






Sunday, May 29, 2016

Cats in Art: Catfight in a Pantry (de Vos)

From my continuing weekly Sunday series of cats in art.  Having moved on from Stefano Zuffi's marvelous work, The Cat in ArtI am now using some ideas from Caroline Bugler's equally impressive book, The Cat/3500 Years of the Cat in Art.  

This is the second of three posts featuring some art from Paul de Vos.




Image credit Museo del Prado, Catfight in a Pantry (alternatively called Cats Fighting in a Larder), Paul de Vos, ca 1630, oil on canvas, 46" x 70", held by Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, Spain.


Per the Prado web site:

With the owners or house servants away, the animals sneak into the larder, giving free rein to their instincts. This leads to a fight. Scenes of animal fights in domestic settings were customary in mid-seventeenth-century Flemish painting. They were also frequent in the literature of proverbs, where they were interpreted as moral allusions to the abandonment of responsibilities and their consequences. Paul de Vos followed in the footsteps of his brother-in-law, Frans Snyders (1579-1657), making identical still lifes with animals and even repeating the compositional schemes and models, but with a more delicate touché and warmer shading. This type of scene was very successful among collectors of that time and was repeated on innumerable occasions. 

Four cats already in the fray, with three more ready to hop in.  About all I can say is that these are very bad cats.  Certainly NOT at all like my kitties!

As in my last week's de Vos post (and as I have previously observed with numerous other artists), de Vos is really good at capturing the essence of catness.  


[Gary note: With my Cats in Arts posts, I encourage you to scope out the art appreciation site Artsy (I have no financial interest in the site, I just like it), where you can explore many aspects of the world of art.  You'll certainly be entertained and enlightened!]

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Cats in Art: Still Life With Game and Lobster (de Vos)

From my continuing weekly Sunday series of cats in art.  Having moved on from Stefano Zuffi's marvelous work, The Cat in ArtI am now using some ideas from Caroline Bugler's equally impressive book, The Cat/3500 Years of the Cat in Art.  

Today and the next couple weeks I'll feature some art from Paul de Vos.



Image credit The State Hermitage MuseumStill Life With Game and Lobster, Pauwel (Paul) de Vos, ca 1610, oil on canvas, 47" x 71", held by The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.

And the obligatory close-up of the scairdy (is that spelled right?) cat in the center foreground:



And here's a Gotcha, noted by yours truly.  I now consider myself an amateur art historian based upon me doing my weekly Cats in Art post for over 6 years now.  

Here's the error: Bugler's book attributes this image to the Flemish artist Frans Snyders, which is a mistake. A diligent search of the web confirms the painter as Pauwel (Paul) de Vos.  While Frans Snyders did do many still life paintings, including one long-windedly entitled Still Life with Game Suspended on Hooks, a Lobster on a Porcelain Plate and a Basket of Grapes, Apples, Plums and Other Fruit on a Partly Draped Table with Two Monkeys (link is here) he did not paint the image with the kitty above.  It was definitely painted by Paul de Vos...although I came to find out that de Vos and Snyders were brothers-in-law!  Perhaps they even painted together in the same studio.

I can only assume that when Bulger assembled the art for her book, the presence of the words "game" and "lobster" in Snyders' title above threw her off.

Just check out this page (you'll need to scroll down to the "S" paintings) for nearly a score of other Snyders paintings beginning with the words "Still Life...." in the title and note the similarities.  This must have been one of the schools of painting during the time when both artists were active in the 1600s.

Back to the painting itself.  Bugler tells us: 
This tempting array of game and fish is enough to whet the appetite of any domestic animal.  The dog and cat have made their stealthy advances on the display, but have encountered each other, and it looks as the though the dog is about to gain the upper hand in the confrontation.

My take?  Yes, the dog has prevailed...in this case.  But in the long run, of course cats rule!  Now that that's out of the way, regarding this image, the poor kitty has been psyched out, big time.  But if they would agree to peaceful co-existence, there's plenty of food for everyone.  Just share, you guys.

Also, de Vos has well captured the essence of scared catness.  He must have had kitties to have painted this one so well: the ears, the eyes, the tail, the overall posture.

And another gem from the Hermitage web page, regarding the provenance of this painting:


Acquisition date: Transferred to the Hermitage from the collection of Catherine the Great in 1772

Is that cool, or what?  Catherine the Great actually owned this de Vos painting.  It was in her house.  She saw it, hopefully admired it, and safely passed it along to posterity.  Whatever else one might stay about CTG, this was a good thing!

[Gary note: With my Cats in Arts posts, I encourage you to scope out the art appreciation site Artsy (I have no financial interest in the site, I just like it), where you can explore many aspects of the world of art.  You'll certainly be entertained and enlightened!]

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Cats in Art: Singeree in Een Wachtpost (Teniers)

From my continuing weekly Sunday series of cats in art.  Having moved on from Stefano Zuffi's marvelous work, The Cat in ArtI am now using some ideas from Caroline Bugler's equally impressive book, The Cat/3500 Years of the Cat in Art.

This is the second of two images from Abraham Teniers.



Image credit Rijksmuseum, Singeree in Een Wachtpost, Abraham Teniers, ca 1650, engraving, approx 30" x 20", held by Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Holland.


And the close-up of the unfortunate kitty in the doorway on the right side:



The Flemish title of the work is explained via Wikipedia:
Abraham Teniers contributed to the spread of the genre of the 'monkey scene', also called 'singerie' (a word, which in French means a 'comical grimace, behaviour or trick'). Comical scenes with monkeys appearing in human attire and a human environment are a pictorial genre that was initiated in Flemish painting in the 16th century and was subsequently further developed in the 17th century. 

The poor cat is being perp-walked by a bunch of monkeys.  The alleged crime? We know not.  Perhaps the cat was up on the table, was eating house plants on the mantle, or unmercifully pestered the other cats in the household.

[Gary note: With my Cats in Arts posts, I encourage you to scope out the art appreciation site Artsy (I have no financial interest in the site, I just like it), where you can explore many aspects of the world of art.  You'll certainly be entertained and enlightened!]

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Busy Here at Mister Tristan

Big goings on here with the fam, so blogging will take a back seat in May.  Life trumps blogging, always!.

I have my regular Sunday feature, Cats in Art, all queued up to run every week, but I don't expect to do any other posting for several weeks.

Please be patient!