Sunday, May 21, 2017

Cats in Art: Head of a Lion (Lewis)

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 my second post (of at least 5) on the cat art of John Frederick Lewis.

Image credit Tate Britain, Head of a Lion, John Frederick Lewis, 1824, watercolor, 13" x 10", held by Tate Britain Museum.

The museum website tells us a bit about Lewis:

One of several studies of lions and other animals made by Lewis in the 1820s and engraved by him at the same time. Gilbey quotes from the Sporting Magazine for 1824 a description of Lewis as ‘a young artist of considerable promise, who has recently made some very splendid studies of lions, which for their merit have been considered worthy of being added to the collections of Sir John E. Swinburne, Bart., and the President of the Royal Academy’, i.e. Sir Thomas Lawrence.

My thoughts?  This is an absolutely magnificent rendering of an African lion.  Though the lion seems a bit tired or weary, Lewis captures the regal essence of this huge cat.  This very week I was just at the National Zoo in Washington DC, and of course went pretty much straight to the big cats.  There I was able to observe their lions.  They, too, had that sort of wistful, world-weary look that we see here.  Likely Lewis' subject lion was in captivity as well.

One other observation: the Tate Museum is not currently displaying thgis watercolor.  Makes me sad to think that it is stored in a drawer somewhere rather than being hung for the world to appreciate.

[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!]

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