Sunday, March 19, 2017

Cats in Art: A Sense of Touch (Mercier)

Late post today.

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 Yale Center for British Art, A Sense of Touch, Philippe Mercier, ca 1744, oil on canvas, 52" x 60", held by Paul Mellon Collection at Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT.

And here's the kitty close-up:


Not a sense of a relaxed cat at all.  "Pissed" is the only word that applies.  Mercier pretty much nails it here.


Bugler's comments:

The tabby cat is at the very centre of this painting, an allegory on the sense of touch, and is central to its meaning, too.  Just as the human hands stretch out to touch or express emotion, so the cat's paws are extended, its claws unsheathed.  It appears to have scratched the man on the left, who is sucking his hand.  As the man is the foreground embraces his sweetheart, so the child is reaching out to stroke the cat's fur.

My take?  This is a reasonably friendly kitty who finds itself in over its head.  Too many humans in the vicinity, surrounding me.  Better lash out and let them know who really is in charge!

Of the five humans, the guy on the far left got bitten and his lady friend is comforting him.  Their interaction with the kitty is now nil.  Over on the right, the joker in the red is forcing himself on his lady friend, who seems less than excited about his romantic moves (she probably ditches him soon).  Likewise, their interaction with the kitty is now also nil.

So scratch (play on words!) the 4 adults. That leaves the little girl, who seems to me to be about 3  years of age (I know such things, having numerous female descendants).  Look at the expression on her face: delight and perhaps a bit of trepidation.  She so wants to touch that kitty but she just saw the guy on the left get nailed.  Let's hope she has a soothing, gentle touch with the cat, which I can say with authority, is a tough prospect for a 3-year old.  Or else she's gonna also fall prey to those sharp claws!


[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, March 12, 2017

Cats in Art: Cat and Kitten (Sir Edward Burne-Jones)

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 Atheneum, Cat and Kitten, Sir Edward Burne-Jones, early 1890s, watercolor on plaster, 14" x 16", held in a private collection.

Bugler tells us:

Burne-Jones' granddaughter Angela recalled that the artist painted a series of scenes for her on the walls of the nursery where she slept when staying with her grandparents at their home in Rottingham, Sussex.  As a young girl, she would be made to stand in the corner of the room if she disobeyed her nanny's rules....the sight of her so dismayed her grandfather that "the very next day he took his paintbox into my corner and painted a cat and a kitten playing with its mother's tail, and a flight of birds, so that I might never be unhappy or without company in my corner again."

I tend to rail on sometimes about how precious artworks should be in museums for all to see, rather than in private collections.  But in this case I make an exception, for the painting is literally on (as in painted on, not hanging) the wall of a private residence.  Hopefully the home still belongs to the descendants of Sir Edward Burne-Jones and the watercolor is still making children happy to this day.


[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, March 5, 2017

Cats in Art: The Stray Kitten (Collins)

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 a pair of images from William Collins.




Image credit WikiArtThe Stray Kitten, William Collins, early 1800s, oil on canvas, dimensions unspecified, held by the Victoria and Albert Museum.

And the kitty close-up:





If you recall last week's feature--A Kitten Deceived--you'll notice the similarities: sunlight streaming from the left, happy family members over to the right, the kitty centrally featured.  The main difference is overall tone: whereas this image features a warm, brownish-yellow cast, last week's image was decidedly green.

And today's kitty just seems more sharply defined, with its black-and-white coloration, as opposed to the previous calico.

And I especially like how the sunlight copiously illuminates both the kitten and the family members trying to coax it closer.  One must believe that the kitten will cave and commit to  the humans.  Warmth, love, and trust all seem in ample supply in this decidedly upbeat painting.


[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 26, 2017

Cats in Art: A KItten Deceived (Collins)

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 WikiArt, A Kitten Deceived, William Collins, 1816, oil on canvas, 30" x 24", held by Guildhall art Gallery, London, England.

And the close-up of the befuddled kitty:




The poor kitten gets faked out by its image in the mirror and tries to get fierce with the intruder.  Normally cats are suave and Bugler relates a story in which the artist was distracted by a friend stopping by, and painted the wrong side of the kitten in the mirror.

I can't count the times this has happened to me, so I guess I'm in good company!

[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 19, 2017

Cats in Art: Two Girls Decorating a Kitten (Wright)

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 Wikipedia, Two Girls Dressing a Kitten by Candlelight, Joseph Wright of Derby, oil on canvas, 35" x 28", held by Kenwood House, London, England.

Note that this painting is alternatively called Two Girls Decorating a Kitten.  So here's the kitty close-up, and a woeful shot indeed it is:


Bugler comments:

The pictorial association of young girls with cats become commonplace in the 18th century.  Here, these two girls dress up a pet kitten in dolls' clothes, but the cat looks far from pleased with this new game....Extra drama is added to the narrative by the fact that is taking place by candlelight.

To which I add, "Oh, the indignity!"  But as I often say, that's the price our pets have to pay for domesticity.

Turns out I did this painting back in 2012 (link here).  Zuffi also loved this painting, as do I.

[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 12, 2017

Cats in Art: Gabrielle Arnault as a Child (Boilly)

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).

Following several weeks of the cat art of Sebastiano Lazzari, we're moving on to the second week with Louis-Leopold Boilly from the period of the French Revolution.



Image credit Web Gallery of ArtGabrielle Arnault as a Child, Louis-Leopold Boilly, ca 1815, oil on canvas, 18" x 16", held by The Louvre, Paris, France.

And of course we need a kitty close-up:


At first I was going to refer to this cat as a scaredy-cat, but look at the expression again.  It is more of mild annoyance ("Isn't this over yet?") rather than fear.  Boilly does an exceptional job at working the nuances of feline facial expression and body language.  To say nothing of how well and realistically the cat's fur is painted, which is not an easy feat for an artist.  All in all, quite an exceptional job!

And even though she is not a cat, I cannot help but be dazzled by the rendering of Gabrielle: she seems to be a calm, placid child.  And those huge, expressive eyes!

As another aside, the bride and I will have the great fortune to visit Paris later in 2017, and of course we will spend as much time as practicable in the Louvre.  We certainly will pay a visit to the forever-young Gabrielle Arnault and her 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 5, 2017

Cats in Art: The Dead Mouse (Boilly)

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).

Following several weeks of the cat art of Sebastiano Lazzari, we're moving on to at least a couple weeks with Louis-Leopold Boilly from the period of the French Revolution.




Image credit The Wallace Collection, The Dead Mouse, Louis-Leopold Boilly, ca 1790, oil on canvas, 16" x 12", held by The Wallace Collection, London.

And the kitty close-up:


Bugler's analysis:

Here, a young boy clings to his mother, recoiling in horror at the sight of the dead mouse teasingly dangled through the window.  The cat looks up eagerly at the offering, its predatory pose making an amusing contrast with that of the docile fluffy pet in Boilly's portrait of the young Gabrielle Arnault [that painting will becoming next week--Gary]

I've never been squeamish about mice or small critters so I have trouble sympathizing with people who freak out over such things.  But it's the cat who apparently thinks that  things are going to get just a tad more interesting around here.  I like how it is standing its ground despite the child's noise right behind him/her.  Good kitty!

Also, note that this painting is rather small--scarcely larger than a sheet of legal paper.  Yet Boilly manages to pack all that marvelous detail into such a compact space.

[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 29, 2017

Cats in Art: Still Life With Cat and Parrot (Lazzari)

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 my third of several posts on the cat art of Sebastiano Lazzari. 





Image credit Wikimedia, Still Life With Cat and Parrot, Sebastiano Lazzari, early 1700s, oil on canvas, 19" x 28", held in a private collection.

Note that if you are so disposed to try to look up more information about this painting, you may have better luck searching on the German title, Stillleben mit Katze ind Papagei.  



Couple of things that I find intriguing about this painting.  It is dark!  At first glance, it seems as though we have another instance of a painting that has darkened over the 3 centuries since it was painted.  Yet...look at the brightness of the back wall where a scientific poster is attached to a lighter wall, and even looks as though a light is being shined upon it.

Evidently Lazzari wanted to highlight the back wall, at the expense of the critters up front.  I just don't get it.

Second, I will say that Lazzari gets the cat right, unlike the paintings of his that I've featured here in the past two weeks.  The cat's eyes look lustrous, the splash of white fur on the whisker area looks real, the plum-colored nose just kills, and the overall posture, well, actually looks like a real kitty.

Another thing that I find fascinating is that while there is a by-God real parrot (or papagei if you are of Germanic persuasion) only inches away, the cat here is focused on something else in the right distance.  Must be pretty darn interesting if the cat literally passes on "a bird in the hand" (or paw!), evidently thinking that the "two in the bush" must be worth more.

Perhaps the cat and the parrot are buddies and there is no predator-prey thinking going on here.

[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!]