Sunday, February 18, 2018

Cats in Art: Peasant Family in an Interior (Le Nain)

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.  You really should check out and/or own both of these wonderful works, easily available on Amazon or eBay (and I have no financial interest).

The bride and I just returned from a wonderful vacation in France this fall where we were privileged to see both the Louvre and Orsay Museums.  Of the two, the Orsay was much better--less crowded, could get closer to the paintings, more cats.


This is the first of 4 posts on the art of the brothers Le Nain, Louis, Antoine, and Mathieu.  More on the brothers next week; let's just enjoy this painting today.



Image credit Wikimedia Commons, Peasant Family in an Interior, Louis (or Antoine) Le Nain, 1643, oil on canvas, 44" x 62", held by The Louvre, Paris, France.


 And the kitty close-up from the front foreground:





Frederic Vitoux and Elisabeth Foucart-Walter, authors of Cats in the Louvre, have this to say about the cat:

The funny little black-and-white cat with the symmetrical markings on his head has also turned up for roll call.  Having forsaken the warmth of the fireplace of which members of his species are inordinately fond, he has settled down on the bare floor, in line with several kitchen utensils larger than him.  The tip of his nose peeks out between an ladle and a glazed earthenware vessel on three feet whose lid seems to be acting as his shield.

The humans in the image seem so very, very serious, as though a death has just occurred in the family.  Only the man in the hat seems to have any life in his eyes.  Even the wide-eyed cat seems tentative and uneasy, as though waiting for another negative shoe to drop.

The painting itself is quite skillfully rendered.  The earth tones, the dark background, the human expressions (or lack thereof!) all combine to set a somber, spare scene of a family just kinda hanging on.  Yet the painting is surprisingly bright.  Regardless, if Le Nain's intent was to portray life seeming to be a joyless grind, he certainly succeeded.  Good thing they have a kitty!


[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, February 11, 2018

Cats in Art: The Artist Painting, Surrounded by his His Family (Van Veen)

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.  You really should check out and/or own both of these wonderful works, easily available on Amazon or eBay (and I have no financial interest).

The bride and I just returned from a wonderful vacation in France this fall where we were privileged to see both the Louvre and Orsay Museums.  Of the two, the Orsay was much better--less crowded, could get closer to the paintings, more cats.



Image credit Wikimedia CommonsThe Artist Painting, Surrounded by his His Family, Otto Van Veen, 1584, oil on canvas, 69" x 98", held by The Louvre, Paris, France.

And the kitty close-up:




From the Frederic Vitoux and Elisabeth Foucart-Walter book Cats in the Louvre:

To each indiviudual he [Van Veen] carefully allotted a tiny figure (it appears above their head and is admittedly difficult make out in a reproduction), which refers to the numbered list of the first names of the nineteen family members represented on the cartouche to the right.  But the name of the cat, who also formed part of the household, he simply forgot, so we will never know what [the name was of] the engaging-looking puss rubbing up against the cartouche on the left (which stipulates that the picture is to remain in the artist's estate) and who is being fussed over by a little girl named Elizabeth, which was the name of a niece of the painter.

This unnamed male cat has the skinniest tail I have ever seen.  And it's obviously a mild-manned kitty--just look at the expression on his face.  And evidently beloved, as the painter saw fit to include him in the painting of his family and thus be immortalized forever.

I've ranted about cat names before--one of my pet (ha ha) peeves.  But I'll do it again here.  Whenever I am asked, "What is your cat's name?" I never answer, for example "Her name is Amanda."  Instead I always say "We call her Amanda," because I maintain that people can never really know the true name of a cat--what they call themselves.  All we know is the name we have stuck on them.


[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, February 4, 2018

Cats in Art: Jupiter and Antiope... (Sellaer)

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.  You really should check out and/or own both of these wonderful works, easily available on Amazon or eBay (and I have no financial interest).

The bride and I just returned from a wonderful vacation in France where we were privileged to see both the Louvre and Orsay Museums.  Of the two, the Orsay was much better--less crowded, could get closer to the paintings, more cats.



Image credit The AthenaeumJupiter as a Satyr with Antiope, Queen of Thebes, with their Twins Amphion and Zethos, Vincent Sellaercirca 1550, oil on panel, 55" x 40", held by the Louvre Museum, Paris, France.

Unfortunately, we did not see this painting in person, but a bizarre one indeed it is: a near-naked goddess, four cherubic children, one cat, and what appears to be a devil or some such up there in the upper right.  Well, duh, I guess he's Jupiter, and a satyr, given the title of the piece.

The analysis from Frederic Vitoux and Elisabeth Foucart-Walter, authors of Cats in the Louvre:

In spite of his apparent indifference to the scene, the animal certainly plays a role in the meaning of work.  With the strange painterly realism and tactile sensuality he exudes, he might readily be interpreted as an emblem of lust and thus be singularly at home in this inventive evocation of an outlandish tale from the loves of the gods.

I have a different idea, based upon the kitty close-up:


Not quite unhappy enough, the kitty is looking for a break and will bolt fairly soon.  Trust me, I know cats.  They have tells.  As for the notion that the kitty represents lust?  Not quite buying it.  This docile cat got sucked into this goat-rope and will soon be outta there.

[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, January 28, 2018

Cats in Art: Girl With a Cat (2 variations, by Perronneau)

From my continuing weekly Sunday series of cats in art.  Having moved on from 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.  You really should check out and/or own both of these wonderful works, easily available on Amazon or eBay (and I have no financial interest).

The bride and I just returned from a wonderful vacation in France where we were privileged to see both the Louvre and Orsay Museums.  Of the two, the Orsay was much better--less crowded, could get closer to the paintings, more cats. 

I ran this original post back in 2012, and in recognition of our trip to the Louvre this fall have chosen to trot it back out.  This pair of paintings is pretty cool.  That said, our time at the Louvre was rather limited and so I did not physically lay eyes on this painting.  I guess I'll just have to go back there.

=========================




Today's post is somewhat different.  When I went to the net to snag an image of Perronneau's Girl With a Cat, I found another version, and will reproduce both here.  I've encountered this several times previously, where apparently an artist will do multiple versions of a painting.  Or we have an original, then perhaps a student paints a slightly different study.  Regardless, it's fascinating, and with these paintings in question having been done some 250+ years ago, the truth of the matter will likely never be known.

So, first the Zuffi version called Young Girl With a Cat, held by the Louvre (although Zuffi omits the initial word "young"):


Image credit Wikimedia.orgYoung Girl With a Cat, Jean-Baptiste Perronneau, 1757, pastel on parchment, 18" x 15", held by Musee du Louvre, Paris, France.

And the kitty close-up:



 Zuffi's comment:

In this adorable girl, and in the little gray cat that peeps out from a corner of the picture, Perronneau's gifts for intimacy and precise definition, along with the notable sense of color that characterize his work...are clearly visible.

And the second version:
Image credit National Museum, A Girl With a Kitten, attributed to Jean-Baptiste Perronneau, 1745?, pastel on paper, 23" x 20", held by The National Gallery, London, England.


My comment: Same girl, same clothes, different poses, and most importantly, different cat.  Whichever work came first, and whether both were by Perronneau, the first cat must have misbehaved and needed to be replaced by a better cat.

I think the second image must have been the first one painted, because that cat just looks bad.  The cat in the first image actually looks like it is enjoying being held by the girl.


Sunday, January 21, 2018

Pets in Art: Gay Paree

I suppose I must for one week call this post "Pets in Art" (I just can't bring myself to go so far as to call it "Dogs in Art").

The glued felt and paper masterpiece below was created by one of the heirs to the Gary and bride estate.  Well, actually she's a granddaughter, age 7, but that's all the info I feel comfortable sharing.

This little sweetheart created this piece just prior to our excursion to France in Nov 2017 where we were privileged to see some of the finest paintings on the planet at the Louvre and the Orsay Museums in Paris, and at Claude Monet's estate in Giverney, Normandy.

Even as a 7-year-old, she exhibits a good understanding of geography, countries, and their iconic claims to fame as evidenced by the piece below.


Image credit Jane Doe, Gay Paree, 2017, felt and paper on paper, 8" x 10", held by Gary, a relative of Mister Tristan.

Forget all the analytical comments: I LOVE this piece and will treasure it always.


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Cats in Art: The Geese of the Capitol (Motte)

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.  You really should check out and/or own both of these wonderful works, easily available on Amazon or eBay (and I have no financial interest).

The bride and I just returned from a wonderful vacation in France where we were privileged to see both the Louvre and Orsay Museums.  Of the two, the Orsay was much better--less crowded, could get closer to the paintings, more cats.


This is the second of a pair of posts on the art of Paul-Henri Motte.


Image credit Wikimedia CommonsThe Geese of the Capitol, Henri-Paul Motte, 1889, medium, size, and ownership unspecified.

And the kitty close-up, very reminiscent of the lion in The Fiancee of Belus featured here a couple of weeks ago:



Wikimedia Commons tells us this:


While the Roman soldiers and watch dogs slept, Juno's sacred geese on the Capitol warned Rome of the Gallic attack in 390 BC.

And that terse statement is about all I could ascertain about this painting.  It is a fascinating work, true to Mott's inclination towards historical realism in his paintings.

The poor lion seems revulsed by the water spouting forth from its mouth.  Can't say that I blame him.


[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, December 31, 2017

Cats in Art: The Fiancee of Belus (Motte)

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.  You really should check out and/or own both of these wonderful works, easily available on Amazon or eBay (and I have no financial interest).

The bride and I just returned from a wonderful vacation in France where we were privileged to see both the Louvre and Orsay Museums.  Of the two, the Orsay was much better--less crowded, could get closer to the paintings, more cats.




Image credit Gary of image in the Orsay Museum, The Fiancee of Belus, Henri Mott, 1885, oil on canvas, 71" x 49", held by the Orsay Museum Paris, France.


And the close-up of the (rather large!) kitty at the right front:



Our friends at Wikimedia Commons provides an electronic image plus more here.  Apparently the theory behind this image (per Wikipedia) is thus:


...based on a fanciful Babylonian ritual associated with deity Belus (Bel). According to that ritual, Bel was offered a girl who sat on the lap of the Bel's statue overnight, and then was replaced by another, all of whom were the winners of daily beauty contests.


As I have often remarked about various paintings that I have been fortunate enough to see in person, my impression from standing right in front of the wonderful painting was its size and detail.  It's nearly 6 feet high and 4 feet wide.  One can never tell much about size from the image in a coffee table book, unless one reads the narrative to ascertain the true size.  On the small side, I have been blown away by paintings measuring scant inches wide and tall; similarly, I've seen some truly giant canvases.  In either extreme, when you see a painting repro in a book, you simply cannot tell how big the painting really is.

At any rate, Motte nailed it with the lion: regal, powerful, watchful, perhaps even disdainful.  On the macro scale, the overall image is quite interesting: muted and darkened background with a strikingly bright focus upon the poor young lady on Belus' lap.  She no doubt is believing that her being singled out is a most dubious honor.

[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!]

Friday, December 29, 2017

Cats in Art: A Christmas Apology

Oops, so I missed Christmas.  Well, not the real Christmas--I happily celebrated the holiday with the bride, kids, and grandkids.  But I did miss my Cats in art post for the special day, without even giving it a thought. Sorry!

Blogging is an outlet, one that once was very important to me as a means of expressing first my love of the sport of Ultrarunning, then gradually mixing in philosophy and politics, then as a relief valve for my outrage at ongoing political and social stupidity.

I suppose I could easily maintain that outrage over the current occupant of the White House, should I choose to do so, but at this juncture of my life, I guess I realize that my small little blog is insufficient forum to make a difference.  Plus I want to be happier and less dour, and spend time focusing on the positive things of my life rather than the negative things at the macro level.

So now I just post about Cats in Art every week (when I don't forget!)....and get higher viewership than I ever did while trying to be "relevant" and "edgy."  So, enjoy!