Sunday, May 20, 2018

Cats in Art: Head of a Mewing Cat (Oudry)

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 had 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 at least two posts on the cat art of Jean-Baptiste Oudry.





Image credit PinterestHead of a Cat Mewing, Jean-Baptiste Oudry, early 1700s, black chalk, pastel with white highlights, 6" x 6", held by the Louvre Museum, Paris, France. 

And today no kitty close-up is warranted!

The analysis in the Vitoux and Foucart-Walter book Cats in the Louvre:

Bearing [sic] its little pointed teeth and with his whiskers every which way, the face of this puling cat is little short of terrifying.  It is so true to life that surely it was drawn from nature.  And yet nothing could be further from the truth.  Oudry quite simply copied it from a study showing several animals, including this cat's head [by Pieter Boel, held by "the museum at Alencon"].  

Did you notice the image credit?  I can almost hear you saying, "Pinterest, really??!!"  Again I've encountered one of the vagaries of the Internet: diligent search of the web, to include the Louvre website, uncovered no primary sources for this image.  I could only find sites like Pinterest and art reproduction sites.

Also did you notice the tiny size of the chalk sketch?  Only 6" square, yet all that marvelous kitty detail!

All I can say is that I wouldn't want to have to give flea meds--or any meds--to this particular kitty.  I value my life and limb a tad too much.

[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, May 13, 2018

Cats in Art: Earthly Paradis (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.  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 had 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 Commons, Earthly Paradise, Paul de Vos (and studio), 1600s, oil on canvas, 7' 2" x 10' 10", a replica of the original held by the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, Italy, held by the Louvre Museum, Paris, France. 

And the kitty close-up:


The analysis in the Vitoux and Foucart-Walter book Cats in the Louvre, as the paired critters are about ready to embark upon the Ark:

It was normal for painters to fill their depictions of Paradise with beasts of all kinds, so as to recall that, in accordance with biblical texts (Genesis), Adam was called upon by the Eternal to name every member of the animal kingdom. 
Very oddly, our [singular] cat has not adopted the placid attitude one might expect from him: with ears flattened and eyes bulging, he seems in a rage and ready to leap at some invisible adversary.  Perhaps he can sense that the end of this Garden of Eden is nigh.

The painting is huuuuuge, as was de Vos' habit, measuring some 7 feet tall and nearly 11 feet wide.  Can you imagine standing right there and seeing it in person? (unfortunately we completely missed it as we hustled of necessity thru the Louvre).

This is obviously a very bad cat.  Perhaps he was annoyed at the presumptuousness of Adam to name him.  Obviously, as I always say, we can never know the real name of any animal; we only know what we call them.

I've done three posts on the cat art of Paul de Dos previously: Still Life With Game and Lobster, Catfight in a Pantryand A Lion and Three Wolves.

Of course, my fav has to be Catfight in a Pantry, where we see an airborne kitty.  You know you want to click over to see it!


[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, May 6, 2018

Cats in Art: Fishmongers at Their Stalls (Snyders)

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 Athenaeum, Fishmongers at Their Stalls (or more simply, Fish Stall), Frans Snyders, ca 1616, oil on canvas, 6' 10" x 11' 2", held by State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.

The Hermitage web site tells us that Snyders painted a number of quite similar scenes, that fortunately are held by the museum.  This descriptor actually relates to another painting in the series  but the background facts pertain:

The Hermitage has 14 paintings by the famous Flemish painter of animals, hunting scenes and still lifes, Frans Snyders. Son of the owner of one of the largest restaurants in Antwerp, famous for its abundance of vegetables, fruit, fish and game, Snyders found rich material for his paintings. Snyders created his own individual concept of still life painting, which was monumental, decorative and dynamic. A characteristic example of this is the series of four market stalls commissioned from Snyders by Jacques van Ophem, powerful representative of the administration of Archduke Albert and the Infanta Isabella - the Spanish viceroys in the Southern Netherlands.

The Fishmarket shows a seemingly endless variety of the inhabitants of rivers, seas and lakes, depicted by Snyders with almost biological precision. The human figures give the canvas something of the feel of a genre painting: one is catching eels in a wooden tub, another is cutting a fish into pieces, while in the background the life of a sea port unfolds.


And of course the kitty close-up, of a very poorly behaved feline:


Of course, if I were a cat in 1600s Russia, I'd likely be trying to score some fish too.  All we can see is the poor cat's head and front paws, desperately trying to get some food.

Did you notice the size of this painting?  It's eleven feet wide and six feet tall.  Wow!  Can you imagine standing in the Hermitage Museum, right in front of this canvas, and being able to see the rich tableau of seafood, and to be able to scope out the cat directly instead of via this rather fuzzy enlargement?

Sounds like a road trip!  Actually, a faithful copy of this painting hangs in the Louvre, while the original is at the Hermitage.  Vitoux and Foucart-Walter's book Cats in the Louvre provides that nugget of info.


[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, April 29, 2018

Cats in Art: A Boy and a Girl With a Cat and an Eel (Leyster)

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 recently 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 The Catster, A Boy and a Girl With a Cat and an Eel, Judith Leyster, ca 1635, 23" x 19', oil on oak, held by The National Gallery, London, UK.

And the sad kitty close-up:


The laconic comment from The Catster:
Speaking of action, Judith Leyster’s 17th-century A Boy and a Girl with a Cat and an Eel is thought to allude to the Dutch saying, “He who plays with cats gets scratched.” This fancifully collared young lass is counting down the seconds to her brother’s violent feline education.

The official museum website, dreadfully British, tells us:

It has recently been suggested that this painting serves as a warning against foolish and mischievous behaviour. The boy has used the small eel to entice the cat into his grasp and then withholds the bait, while the girl teases the cat further by pulling its tail. Judging by its extended claws, the cat is about to scratch the boy. The picture thus seems to allude to the Dutch saying: 'He who plays with cats gets scratched', meaning he who looks for trouble will get it. It was common in Dutch 17th-century painting to use children in order to point out the foolish behaviour of adults.

Judith Leyster, a painter of genre scenes, portraits and still lifes, was mainly active in Haarlem and Amsterdam. In 1636 she married the painter Jan Miense Molenaer, whose work is also represented in the collection. The broad brushstrokes, the cropped composition and the depiction of youthful happiness all show Frans Hals’ influence on Leyster.

This poor kitty's fuse is smoldering.  I don't think the explosion is imminent, but still some seconds away.  There's still time to defuse the situation and let the cat loose....failing that, some scratches are inevitable.

This painting also has some other attributes: did you notice that it was painted by a woman....and that in the National Gallery blurb about it, they make the point that painter Judith Leyster's work shows the influence of her teacher, one Frans Hals?

That may well be.  But over the years of doing this, I think I see an unconscious bias towards female artists wherein any description tends to emphasize influences rather than the artist's own style and talents.

I also note that on the museum web site we see that this painting is not currently on display.  Not on display?!  What's wrong with these dolts?  I'd be happy to hang it here by my computer and regard that tricky little kitty face lovingly every single day for the rest of my life.
[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, April 22, 2018

Cats in Art: Youths Playing With the Cat (Bloemaert)

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 recently 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.


Today is the last of 4 posts on the cat art of David III Ryckaert....except after I had this all queued up and ready to post this morning I took another quick look and realized that this was actually a painting by Abraham Bloemaert.  So you're only getting 3 Ryckaert works instead of four.




Image credit Wikimedia Commons, Abraham Bloemaert, Youths Playing With the Cat, ca 1620, 35" x 28", oil on canvas, held by Fondazione Musei Senesi, Sienna, Italy.

And the kitty close-up:



I cannot recall how I steered myself wrong on the provenance and painter, but in my web travels I ran across a site called Sad Cats in Art History--to which you really should hop on over and scope out (provided you do come back here!)--where the resident blogger comments with this gem:

 “See? He LOVES it when we pretend he’s a baby.”  Celebrated for his depiction of historical subjects, 17th-century painter-printmaker Abraham Bloemaert recorded in this painting (Youths Playing with the Cat) how two young Dutchmen learned to perform first aid on extremely short notice.
This cat is about to erupt.  I'm talking about a major detonation, and the poor kid holding the cat is smack dab in the epicenter of the impending blast, even though it's the dotard on the left who is doing the actual pulling of the poor feline's tail.

[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, April 15, 2018

Cats in Art: Peasant Woman With a Cat

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.


Today is the third of 4 posts on the cat art of David III Ryckaert, plus a personal note at the end.





Image credit The Hermitage Museum, Peasant Woman With a CatDavid III Ryckaert, ca 1640, 11" x 14", oil on canvas (transferred from panel), held by The State Hermitage Museum, At. Petersburg, Russia.


 And the kitty close-up:


From The Hermitage website:


David Ryckaert III was a follower of the celebrated master of genre painting Adriaen Brouwer. The Hermitage's pair of paintings by Ryckaert owe both their subject and their composition to works by Brouwer: Peasant Woman with a Cat to Brouwer's Woman with a Cat. In the Hermitage painting Ryckaert added amusing details: the old woman is feeding porridge on a spoon to the cat that is wrapped in a blanket like an infant. The painting Peasant with a Dog derives from Brouwer's work Good Friends, which also depicts a peasant with a dog. In Ryckaert's canvas, however, the subject is expanded with the motif of training the animal: the elderly man is holding the little dog by the paw and giving it the command "Sit!". David Ryckaert III's genre scenes have at the same time a hidden metaphorical meaning. The painting of Peasant with a Dog can be interpreted as an "allegory of the sense of touch" and its companion piece as an "allegory of taste".

So....never knew how much kitties loved oatmeal.  The poor cat looks positively stricken.  Oh, the indignities and price they pay for domesticity!


On an unrelated note, the origins of this blog were in ultrarunning, then I began to mix in some politics and philosophy, then the last couple of years it's been exclusively dedicated to Cats in Art.  People change, I've changed, and what was once important has less importance now.

But I did want to note a particular milestone that I had yesterday: I've satisfied a promise I made to myself some 29 years ago, in 1989. 

My 66 year old dad died of congestive heart failure that spring, when I was gearing up for the Pittsburgh Marathon.  Dad's health had been poor for years due to diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.  At the funeral I told myself that I would still be running marathons when I was that age. Well, having just turned 66, it was time to put up or shut up. 

Yesterday’s Western Maryland Rail Trail Marathon in Hancock MD went very well for me. Course was 6.5 miles, out-and-back on a rail trail, so back to the start was 13. Then we did it again...so all in all we covered the same segment 4 times to yield the marathon distance of 26 miles. It was wooded and pretty, so there was no boredom factor. 

I ran the first 3 legs continuously but slowly at around 11 min pace. Then as I tired out on the final segment I mixed in a 4 minute walking break at each mile mark. 

Finish time was 5:22, so it's obvious that my speed is nothing to write home about (my personal best is 3:26).

So, a promise made and fulfilled, and a fitting tribute to my father.


Monday, April 9, 2018

Cats in Art: A Peasant Couple at a Spinning Wheel by a Fire (Ryckaert)

Gary Note: Sorry this is a day late, life interfering with blogging again)

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.


Today is the second of 4 posts on the cat art of David III Ryckaert.





Image credit Artnet, A Peasant Couple at a Spinning Wheel by a Fire,

 David III Ryckaert (or a follower thereof), oil on canvas, 22" x 18", holder unspecified. 

And the kitty close-up, perhaps facing off against the canine over there to the right:





This painting seems routine enough: a plain couple doing regular stuff.  The only actions seems to be the cat at the bottom left, who is either alarmed at something or is scampering in play.  The resolution, unfortunately, is poor, but to me the cat is not looking at the dog in repose but rather seems to be looking at something past the dog and more to the front....an object that will forever remain unknown.

As for provenance of this work, I cannot seem to find any info beyond stumbling onto the image on Artnet.  Perhaps it is titled differently and/or not attracted to Ryckaert.  Just another example of some dead-end detective work in art history that makes my Cats in Art series so interesting (at at times frustrating!).

[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, April 1, 2018

Cats in Art: A Painter's Studio (Ryckaert)

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.


Today is the first of 4 posts on the cat art of David III Ryckaert.



Image credit Wikimedia CommonsA Painter's Studio, David III Ryckaert, 1638, oil on panel, 23" x 37", held by The Louvre Museum, Paris, France. 


And the kitty close-up:


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

As an adroit animal, handily able to thread his way without danger among objects of all kinds--even the most valuable--a  cat is quite at home in an artist's studio.  He can moreover, make himself useful in exterminating mice, which are all too fond of canvas and similar materials.   
The one we see here snoozing on the bare floor just beside the painter at his easel is perhaps exhausted after a long night spent chasing pesky rodents.  He is shown coiled into a ball, in a particularly well-observed attitude.

OK, I gotta pick a bit: this cat is a calico and therefore a female (we've had a pair of calicos so this is near and dear to my heart!).  Nevertheless, the description is likely otherwise correct.  Although--let me quibble again--it is not at all certain that the kitty was mousing all night.  In fact, chances are that she is just doing the lazy cat routine, simply working on her daily 19 hours of sleep.

Perhaps these medieval cats really were not mousers so much as dear companions and muses for their human artist friends.

This work's subject or title is a popular one.  Previously here at Mister Tristan (the blog, not the 10 year old human being) I've featured this pair of posts:
The Painter's Studio, by Jose del Castillo, on 27 May 2012 
The Artist's Studio, by Gustave Courbet, on 12 Aug 2012

[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!]