Sunday, August 20, 2017

Cats in Art: The Nosegay (Brown)

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).




Image credit The Athenaem, The Nosegay, Ford Madox Brown, ca 1865, watercolor on paper, 18" x 12", held by Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, England.


And the kitty close up:



Bugler's discussion:


The artist shows his teenage daughter Cathy picking flowers in a garden while a tortoiseshell and white cat affectionately nuzzles her in a characteristically cat-like gesture.  The tender gesture and the bow around the cat's neck are all part of Brown's intention to produce an appealing picture that would attract "patrons who wanted something pretty."  His compositions often involve complicated symbolism, but this picture appears to be free of such content....


I love the calico, having had a couple of them in our lives over the years (most recently Tizzy, whom I hope to have immortalized here).  I agree with Bulger that this painting is exactly what it seems to be: a carefree and innocent domestic scene devoid of any sinister undertones--just a pretty young lady with pretty flowers and a pretty cat.

Bulger's other comment that struck me was this one: "His compositions often involve complicated symbolism, but this picture appears to be free of such content...."

As I researched this image and others from Brown, there were two others that really jumped out at me, and I strived mightily to find a feline in those paintings.  But alas, though I failed to find a kitty, those other paintings were so interesting I'm including them here anyway.

The Coat of Many Colors: just look at the various eyes in this painting!  Can you say the word agenda?




And Stages of Cruelty: what a bizarre image to try to unpack!


[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, August 13, 2017

Cats in Art: Woman with a Cat, Portrait of Madame Manet (Manet)

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).

This is the third of at least 3 posts on the art of Edouard Manet from the late 1800s.



Image credit website Edouard Manet/The Complete Works, Woman With a Cat, Portrait of Madam Manet, Edouard Manet, 1880, oil on canvas, 36" x 29", held by the Tate Museum.



This "Madame Manet, " painted late in his life, represents Manet's wife, Suzanne Leenhoff.  I really like how the pastel woman fades into the background as the black cat forcibly occupies the foreground.

As in last week's image, this kitty is captured quite well by Manet, keying into the relaxed attitude and lap-loving that all cats and cat lovers appreciate.  Again, an image preserved for the ages.

After some difficulty I was able to track down the provenance of this painting as belonging to the Tate Museum in London...where it is NOT currently on display.  Go figure--you have a Manet and it's sitting back in the archives?  (although in fairness, there are many valid reasons that any given painting may not be on view).

Along these lines, I happened upon an Associated Press article on 30 July that deals with the ownership of priceless art.  Seems that the Berkshire Museum in Massachusetts wishes to sell off some artworks to keep the doors open.  It's a tough call, but here's my key excerpt from the story:

A Massachusetts museum's decision to part with 40 artworks, including two by illustrator Norman Rockwell, has touched off a debate over whether it's ever ethical to sell pieces of the collection to pay the bills.
The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield has come under intense national and local pressure after announcing it's auctioning the art.
Critics say it's violating a cardinal rule of museums: Don't sell stuff to pay the bills. 
"One of the most fundamental and long-standing principles of the museum field is that a collection is held in the public trust and must not be treated as a disposable financial asset," the American Alliance of Museums and the Association of Art Museum Directors said in a joint statement. The sale would be an "irredeemable loss," they added.

Let's conclude our Edouard Manet review with a wonderful quote from the artist himself:

Everything is mere appearance, the pleasures of a passing hour, a midsummer night's dream. Only painting, the reflection of a reflection - but the reflection, too, of eternity - can record some of the glitter of this mirage.

[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, August 6, 2017

Cats in Art: Young Woman Reclining (Manet)

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).

This is the second of at least 3 posts on the art of Edouard Manet from the late 1800s.




Image credit Edouard Manet/The Complete Works, Young Woman Reclining, Edouard Manet, 1862, oil on canvas, 47" x 54", held by the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT.

And the kitty close-up:




Unlike last week's post, this woman is clothed, is presumably a "good" young woman in contrast with last week's supposed prostitute, the cat is quite visible, and the image is bright and cheery.  It's a happy scene.

The cat--which of course is my focus--comes complete with a ball of yarn (a pair, actually) and seems playful and engaging.  Manet manages to capture the cat's lively essence and freezes in oil for all time its playful movements.  

[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 30, 2017

Cats in Art: Olympia (Manet)

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).


Image credit Edouard Manet complete works web site, Olympia, Edouard Manet, 1862, oil on canvas, 40" x 74", held by the Musee d'Orsay, Paris.

You just about missed that petite black cat on the foot of the bed, over on the right, didn't you?  The kitty close-up:



Bugler's comments:
Manet's prostitute brazenly confronts the viewer, her black cat echoing her bold stare.  The animal's inclusion is far from incidental, the French word for cat--chat--also being used to signify female genitalia....Manet's black cat is as insolent as its owner who offers herself for sale to the highest bidder.  Manet included cats in more than one work during this decade [Gary: "Yippee!].  

My thoughts on the painting?  First off, the cat is almost invisible, but reminds me so much of our petite black cat Ca Beere.  Also, seems to me that to simply assume that the woman is a prostitute may not be accurate--what if she is simple a lover posing for a painting?  But then, my prostitute radar is pretty poor.  I recall once being on a business trip to Las Vegas with a buddy and co-worker, sitting in the bar area of a casino, and my friend happened to comment on "that hooker over there."  I looked and all I saw was a stylishly dressed attractive single woman.  Prostitute never entered my mind, but we watched her over the next half an hour until she left with a guy in a suit.

Also, it's interesting that the black woman--like the cat--is pretty invisible, being black against a dark background.  There....but not there.  Sounds like a comment on society?

Next, this is a big painting, over 3 feet tall and over 6 feet wide.  The bride and I will be heading to France later this year and I cannot wait to stand right in front of this magnificent painting.  It'll be interesting to see how the strong contrasts of light and darkness in oil paint actually appear in person, versus what I can see in a mere 2-dimensional repro in a book.

[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 23, 2017

The Corner of the Studio (Tassaert)

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).



Image credit to the art repro site Oceans Bridge, The Corner of the Studio, Octave Tassaert, 1845, oil on canvas, 18" x 15", held by the Louvre, Paris.

And the kitty close-up from the center left:


Bugler tells us:

This painting illustrates perfectly the romantic cliche of a penniless artist starving in his garret...but at least he has some company--a beautiful cat, which characteristically has found the warmest position in the room, in front of the fire.

Couple of comments.  Cats and warmth: duh!

Second, we get used to instant gratification on the web, such that when it doesn't happen we are outraged.  Case in point: the Louvre's searchable database of paintings is pretty crappy in my humble opinion.  Bugler tells us that this work is held there, yet I cannot find any trace of it.  Perhaps it has been sold or traded to another museum.

Third....but, when I Google this work by title and artist, the only hits I get are for art reproduction sites.  Until I started my weekly Cats in Art posts, I had no idea that such enterprises existed.  Basically you can order a brand new, hand-painted repro of some famous artwork, in whatever size you wish (you ought to click over to the Ocean's Bridge site I provide above in the image credit).

I am not making value judgments about the propriety of buying a reproduction, just observing that my search for this work, A Corner of the Studio, was fruitless...except for numerous art reproduction sellers.  

[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 16, 2017

Cats in Art: A Hidden Feast (Paton)

Pardon this reposting, life has intervened.  This from 5 years ago.  Original link is here.

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From my continuing weekly Sunday series of cats in art. In my first post on 1 July on the artist Frank Paton, I was using some ideas from the coffee table book, The Cat in Art, by Stefano Zuffi. In researching Paton I uncovered several other cat works, so the entire month of Sundays in July will be devoted to him.



Image credit artnet galleries, here [click to enlarge].   A Hidden Feast, Frank Paton, 1881, oil on canvas, 38" x 34", private collection.

I guess the title comes from the fact that the dogs are swiping food from a vendor`s cart while he is chatting with another man.  Cats, of course, NEVER steal food.  Never.

Besides the cat in the foreground, who hopes to cash in on the dogs' bad behavior, we see two other cats in the background with the men.  These must be the good kitties.

As for the art, Paton again demonstrates his great skill at depicting animals accurately and with warm realism.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Cats in Art: The Painter's Studio (Courbet)

[Sorry for no post past week]

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).



Image credit Gustave Courbet web site, The Artist's Studio, Gustave Courbet, 1855, oil on canvas, 141" x 232", held by Musee d'Orsay, Paris, France.

From the artist web site:

The enormous Studio is without doubt Courbet's most mysterious composition. However, he provides several clues to its interpretation: "It's the whole world coming to me to be painted", he declared, "on the right, all the shareholders, by that I mean friends, fellow workers, art lovers. On the left is the other world of everyday life, the masses, wretchedness, poverty, wealth, the exploited and the exploiters, people who make a living from death". 

And Bugler's analysis:

Although Courbet wrote about the symbolic role of all the figures played ion this vast composition, he said virtually nothing about the cat; this has encouraged scholars to come up with a variety of theories to explain its presence.

My pet theory: Courbet liked cats.

Which brings me to the kitty close-up, from front and center of the painting:



Just for kicks, let's contrast this vibrant, colorful painting from a website dedicated to the painter, with the flat, gray version that appears on the website of the actual holder, the famous Musee d'Orsay in Paris:



The bride and I are fortunate to be traveling to Paris this fall, and will be able to stand in front of this huge painting--it's a stunning 12' tall and some 19' long--and survey it.  Wow, I can't wait!

[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 25, 2017

Cats in Art: Henry Clark's Mother-in-Law...(Hunt)

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).



Image credit The Athenaem, Henry Clark's Mother-in-Law, Mrs. Davies and Four of Her Children in the Drawing Room of Her Home, William Holman Hunt, 1846, oil on canvas, 30" x 24", held by Geffrye Museum - London.


And the kitty close-up, including a couple of the strange-looking children:



And what is that over on the right, on the rug just in front of the fire?  A hat, a cat, a cow head, or a skunk?



This has to be one of the creepiest paintings containing a cat, ever.  Those four kids, in addition to being physically disproportioned, simply look possessed, while the mother looks, well, determined.  Or something.  About what, we do not know.  But the only normal thing in the painting is the white cat.

It may take a trip to London, to the Geffrye Museum, to actually stand in front of this painting, to figure this one out.

[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!]