Sunday, May 28, 2017

Cats in Art: Study of a Lioness (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 third post (of at least 5) on the cat art of John Frederick Lewis.


Image credit Google Arts and Culture, Study of a Lioness, John Frederick Lewis, 1824, watercolor, 17" x 14", held by Yale Center for British Art.

This almost seems like a close-up from a heroic Vatican painting of heaven or something, as the lion seems to be in the clouds.  She must have have been a very good kitty.

I like Lewis' capture of the fierce and deadly jaws of this great cat.  Note also the powerful shoulder.  Huge paw.  If you mess with this critter, you will die.  No question.  

As with the male lion last week, I assume that Lewis was able to observe this cat in captivity to be able to render such an authentic image.

[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 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!]



Sunday, May 14, 2017

Cats in Art: A Turkish School in the Vicinity of Cairo (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).


Image credit Artcyclopedia, who linked to Victoria and Albert Museum, A Turkish School in the Vicinity of Cairo, John Frederick Lewis, 1865, watercolor on paper, 13" x 17", held by Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK.

And the kitty close-up, from over there at the right foreground:



Bugler's comments:

The familiar Victorian schoolroom scene is transposed to Egypt, where the cat had ruled supreme for millennia, so it is only right that the animal should be accorded pride of place, in a sunny spot next to the schoolmaster.

My thinking is, well, duh--of course the cat gets to sit up front!  But moreover, this painting is a busy kaleidoscope of colors and themes. It is simply a busy, busy scene...whose fervor is so nicely tempered by the serene presence of the kitty up front with the master.  

[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!]

Monday, May 8, 2017

Cats in Art: First Steps or The Nourishing Mother (Gerard)

[Gary note: sorry, this should have posted yesterday]

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 fifth of several posts on the art of Marguerite Gerard.



Image credit Jean-Honoré Fragonard Villa-MuseumFirst Steps or The Nourishing Mother, Marguerite Gerard, 1803, oil on wood, dimensions unspecified.

And the (unfortunately not sharp) kitty close-up:



At least one can see that the cat, hiding under a jacket or blanket, is alert and involved in what is happening with its human family.  And with a very long tail.

Look at the lighting.  While the background is dark and nondescript, the two women are strongly bathed in ethereal light, as, of course, is the baby taking its first steps.  And the cat, even though partially covered, is also the recipient of the warm light, according it equal status with the three people.  

I find it fascinating that Gerard added this cat to this painting--makes it seem like this one was a particularly loved family pet.  

[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 30, 2017

Cats in Art: The Swaddled Cat (Gerard)

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 4th of several posts on the art of Marguerite Gerard.


Image credit Musee de GrasseThe Swaddled Cat, Marguerite Gerard, 1778, etching, held by Musee de Grasse, size unspecified.



Here's what the museum web site tells us about this etching: 

Around 1775, Marguerite Gérard, who was barely able to read and write, moved into the house of her sister, Marie-Anne Gérard, who had been married to Jean-Honoré Fragonard for six years. She became Fragonard's pupil and learned to paint, draw and engrave. Fragonard undoubtedly corrected the drawings of his young pupil and introduced her to etching, which enabled her to proudly sign this first print in 1778: The Swaddled Cat.

In 1780, she began to collaborate with the master, as shown by the engravings which include the statement "painted by Fragonard and Miss Gérard", and the signing of several prints.

First off, young Marguerite did this etching when she was a 17 year old.  Not too shabby an effort!  And the rendering of the kitty--that facial expression of total relaxation and bliss is captured so well.  That cat is in kitty heaven, at least for the moment.  It  reminds me of the stories my mother-in-law tells me about growing up on the farm in the 1930s, where she would dress up the barn cats and push them around in a stroller.

[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 23, 2017

Cats in Art: The Angora Cat (Gerard)

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 third of several posts on the art of Marguerite Gerard.



   



Image credit Wallraf-Richartz Museum & Foundation Corboud, The Angora Cat, Marguerite Gerard, 1783, oil on canvas, 26" x 22", held by Wallraf-Richartz Museum & Foundation Corboud.


And the kitty close-up:





Bugler tells us:

 The Angora Cat, painted in collaboration with Jean-Honore Fragonard, shows a cat baffled by its reflection in a convex mirror.

And the museum website tells us:

In the centre of the painting is a curious scene: evidently a black cloth has just been taken off the silver globe. An Angora cat has discovered her reflection and may have decided it is a rival. The globe also reflects what is going on behind us, so to speak: a woman is sitting at an easel in a small room with two other people.

While this is a pretty cool painting, I personally think the whole concept of cats and mirrors is overblown.  None of our kitties ever seemed to perceive the cat in the mirror, much less react to the "intruder."  That said, the concept of this painting is rather cool, where the reflective globe shows the viewer what else is going on in the room.

[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 16, 2017

Cats in Art: Prelude to a Concert (Gerard)

 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 second of several posts on the art of Marguerite Gerard.




Image credit National Museum of Women in the ArtsPrelude to a Concert, Marguerite Gerard, ca 1810, oil on canvas, 22" x 18", held by National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC.


And the kitty close-up.  Look very closely at this dark image to see the dark calico kitty on the table beside the sheet music:




Tool bad that Gerard did not throw a little of the light that illuminates the lady's bosom over onto the cat!  And as for the cat, making out her features is next to impossible, but I can detect that the cat's ears are pricked up and the eyes seem focused and intent, likely on the dog over there at the bottom left.

The National Museum of Women in the Arts website tells us about this painting:

Here, the female singer is clad in a sumptuous white satin gown, attire often seen on Gérard’s female subjects. She pauses to gaze up at her male accompanist, perhaps in response to a romantic overture. The tension of an erotic narrative is further supported by the guitar, often compared to the female body; the dog, a traditional emblem of fidelity; and the cat, a symbol of sexual promiscuity.
Really?  Cats are a symbol of sexual promiscuity?  That's news to me, but maybe my affection for cats explains why I am such a deviate.

[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 9, 2017

Cats in Art: The Cat's Lunch (Gerard)

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 first of several posts on the art of Marguerite Gerard.






Image credit Jean-Honoré Fragonard Villa-Museum, The Cat's Lunch (or Young Girl Giving Milk to Her Cat), Marguerite Gerard, ca 1800, oil on canvas, 24" x 19", held by Jean-Honoré Fragonard Villa-Museum, France.


And the kitty close-up:



Bugler tells us:

The charming owner of this splendid tortoiseshell and white cat is actually kneeling in front of her enthroned pet to offer up a dish of milk, under the envious eye of the dog.  The canine and feline pairing occurs in another of Gerard's paintings, Prelude to a Concert, while The Angora Cat, painted in collaboration with Jean-Honore Fragonard, shows a cat baffled by its reflection in a convex mirror.  [Gary note: these two paintings will be featured over the next couple weeks as we dig deeper into the cat art of Marguerite Gerard]

Here are my comments.  First, this cat is a BEAST, sized more like a lynx or a bobcat.  Its head is about the same size as that of the girl.  Plus, the cat is really annoyed, despite the milk: just take a look at the flattened ears.  Probably because of the overeager dog sitting beside the girl, hoping for a treat or a cat fight.

That said, Gerard somehow manages to have the painting project almost an air of tranquility or serenity, even with the obvious canine-feline potential for disaster.  The lighting, the colors, the girl, and the overall mood of the painting manage to dissuade the viewer from feeling anxious about the subject matter.

[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!]