Sunday, July 24, 2016

Cats in Art: A Group of People Teasing a Dog 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 fourth of a series of posts featuring some art from Jan Miense Moleaer, a Dutch artist from the middle 1600s.



Image credit The AetheneumA Group of People Teasing a Dog With a Cat, Jan Miense Molenaer, 1627, oil on panel, 10" x 17", held by Florence Court - National Trust  (United Kingdom - Enniskillen)

And the mandatory close up of the unfortunate kitty in the 
center:


The paintings of Molenaer are typically bright and vibrant.  I include this one simply because it's the opposite: dark and dingy.  The viewer can barely even make out the cat in the middle.  But I truly doubt that's how it appeared when it was new--more than likely, we are trying to view this painting through the accumulated grime and smoke of 400 years.

The other thing that touches me about this painting is related to today's political climate, where otherwise good people are losing their brains into a sort of mob mentality, where bullying and making fun of the unchampioned is now suddenly okay.

As my good friend DS once observed, "Mobs blow."

[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, July 17, 2016

Cats in Art: The Denying of Peter (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 third of a series of posts featuring some art from Jan Miense Moleaer, a Dutch artist from the middle 1600s.



Image credit The AetheneumThe Denying of Peter, Jan Miense Molenaer, 1636, oil on canvas, 39" x 53", held by Szépmüvészeti Múzeum, Budapest,  Hungary.


And the mandatory close up of the basking kitty down there at the bottom left near the fire:





That poor kitty would just love to be basking over near the fire...but look at her expression: wary watchfulness  Not relaxation.

Any the title, to me, is confusing.  Everyone is looking at the bald, white-bearded guy in the upper right, who must be Peter, the disciple of Jesus, who denied Jesus.  Yet the remainder of the figures seem thoroughly Dutch rather than Roman.  Go figure.

[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, July 10, 2016

Cats in Art: Children Playing and Merrymaking (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 second 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 and Merrymaking, Jan Miense Molenaer.  
And the mandatory close up of the very upset kitty on the top of the barrel:



Just a couple of comments.  First, the artist was only 22 when he painted this image.  Let that sink in a moment.  Twenty-two years old.

I can barely take a photo at my age, much less paint a priceless work of art!

Second, like the happy image of Dutch children from 2 weeks ago, again we have happy kids...and a very unhappy cat.  See, despite their natural grace and effortless movement, cats have no sense of rhythm.  They just don't dance, so this poor feline is waaaaay out of his/her element.

[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, July 3, 2016

Cats in Art: Who's the Fairest of Them All? (Paton)

While life intervenes, I will repost a classic Cats in Art piece from 4 years ago.  Enjoy:

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Cats in Art: Fairest of Them All (Paton) (2012)

From my continuing weekly Sunday series of cats in art. I am using some ideas from the coffee table book, The Cat in Art, by Stefano Zuffi.

I've discovered several other cat paintings by Paton, so the month of Sundays in July will be devoted entirely to him.

Image credit artnet galleries, here [click to enlarge].  Who's the Fairest of Them All?, Frank Paton, 1883, oil on canvas, 24" x 20", private collection. And, as it so happens, the original is actually for sale as you read this, here.

Zuffi's analysis:
This charming painting by Paton bears witness to the proliferation of images of cats--some clumsy and verging on caricature--during the second half of the 19th century. 
Not that I want to rain on this painting's parade--because I happen to love it--but I must quibble with the physics, or more properly, with the optics depicted here.  It's a simple convention often used in films and TV, and here in this painting: the subject is shown looking at a mirror such that we see the reflected image.

But think about it: what the subject would actually be seeing is not their reflection but rather the reflection of the detached observer.  In this kitty's case, it would be Frank Paton as he paints.  In film or TV, it would be the camera.  In other words, if the camera "sees" the subject, then the subject sees the camera.  It's a two-way street, simple optics.  Angle of incidence equals angle of reflection and all that stuff.

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!]