Sunday, September 24, 2017

Cats in Art: The Briar Rose (Crane)

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 Athenaeum, The Briar Rose (triptych, center panel), Walter Crane, tempura on panel, 23" x 17", held by Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum - Glasgow, United Kingdom.


And the kitty close-up from over on the right foreground:


You know how cats just love musical instruments!  Why, the kitty can no more ignore that mandolin (or whatever it is) then it can just stop breathing.  Kind of analogous to cardboard boxes, a book on a lap, computer keyboards, or newspapers on the floor.

But seriously, this is a disturbing image.  First off, the guy is clearly invading the sleeping beauty's space, thus even if he indeed is Prince Charming, he is a creepy, lascivious character.  Next, the animals seem completely oblivious to the intruder (while that would be OK for the cat--that's just what they do--the sleeping dog is puzzling).  And finally, what do we make of the hooded person in the back, past the bed?  Presumably she (?) is a servant, but what is she holding on her lap?  And as a minimum, her watching skills are sorely lacking!


[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, September 17, 2017

Cats in Art: At Home: A Portrait (Crane)

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 AthenaeumAt Home: A Portrait, Walter Crane, 19872, tempera on paper, 28" x 16", held by Leeds Art Gallery, UK.


And the kitty close-up:




Bugler tells us:

A tabby cat is the final domestic touch in Walter Crane's portrait of his wife, Frances, painted during their extended honeymoon in Italy.  The cat must surely be the family pet, but it has all the gravitas of Egyptian sculptures of the feline goddess Bastet; only the twitching ears indicate that this is a live creature rather than a statue.

My take is that this was a brave couple to take a cat to Italy on their honeymoon....which indicates the depth of affection the cat must have had for its humans to undertake such a journey.


[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, September 11, 2017

Cats in Art: Woman Holding a Cat (Kuniyoshi)...plus a Wedding

Life has interfered with blogging, as so often happens.  Daughter just got married to a wonderful man, so our weekend was just a tad busy.

So....a day late, here's a Cats in Art post from 5 years ago.  I chose this one because the cat I refer to, Ca Beere, was our daughter's but now is ours (and yes, the cat still exists).

Here is the original link from 2 Sept 2012.  Dedicated to our daughter and new son-in-law.

++++++++++++++++

Woman Holding a Cat (Kuniyoshi)

From my continuing weekly Sunday series of cats in art. I'm using some ideas from the coffee table book, The Cat in Art, by Stefano Zuffi.


Image credit Zazzle.  Woman Holding a Cat, Utagawa Kuniyoshi, 1852, colored xylograph, 14" x 10", held by private collector.

May as well continue with a Japanese theme...last week's post was a Hiroshige image.

Zuffi really gets into it:

A perfectly dressed and made-up geisha, wrapped in the silk of an embroidered kimono, attempts to ward off the excessive affections of a magnificent white cat.  It is a pet, but also a sort of refined "domestic furnishing," as demonstrated by the knotted ribbon around its neck and its soft, carefully brushed fur, into which the woman sinks her fingers with pleasure.  There is an interesting contrast between the cat's onslaught and the much more dangerous scene depicted in the background, in which a gigantic octopus is threatening a small fishing boat.


Wow...getting kinda steamy here.  Good thing it's in a private collection, otherwise I'd have to hop a plane to check it out firsthand.

One of our cats, De Beere, is what we call a "face kitty," meaning she likes to burrow into your neck and face and lick.  It's fun for a moment but then you go into defensive mode like the geisha above depicted by Kuniyoshi.

+++++++++++++++++++

By the way, here is Ca Beere--Steeler fan--in a recent photo:






Sunday, September 3, 2017

Cats in Art: Puss in Boots (Millais)

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 posts on the art of John Everett Mallais from the late 1800s.



Image credit The Athenaeum, Puss in Boots, John Everett Millais, 1877, oil on canvas, 42" x 31", held by The McManus: Dundee's Art Gallery and Museum, Dundee, Scotland.

And the kitty close-up:


Oh, the indignity!!!  A cat, forced to wear boots!!!  

Tail up, the kitty is regarding the girl (its owner?), while the girl is steadily looking at the painter.  Cat toys appear on the floor, and the doll may be an object of interest as well for the cat.  However, relief from the hated boots is not coming anytime soon, it appears.

One can't help but think that this painting's colors must have deteriorated over the140 years since Millais painted it--the poor cat's upper half is virtually indistinguishable from the girl's dress or pillow, whatever is immediately behind the cat.  Surely Millais would not have painted brown-on-brown in this fashion...though perhaps what we are seeing is a reproduction failure in copying the painting to paper.

Guess a trip to Scotland is in order to actually stand in front of this painting and see what the colors really look like.  Road trip!

[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 27, 2017

Cats in Art: A Flood (Millais)

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 Athenaeum, A Flood, John Everett Millais, 1870, oil on canvas, 39" x 57", held by Manchester Art Gallery, UK.

And the kitty close up:



Bulger's analysis:


A terrible flood took place in Sheffield in 1864 when the dam of a reservoir burst, causing the deaths of more than 250 people and thousands of cattle.  Reports of a baby being washed out of a home in a a cradle and subsequently rescued from the waters inspired Millais to paint this scene, which is loosely based on the incident.  He shows the child, quite unperturbed, looking up at the raindrops and the birds above, while the black cat, which has sought refuge from the rising waters on the cradle, mews in terror.

I have often seen this type of scenario, where a kitty cries out for something. Usually it's not a flood, but rather a request for milk or cat food or petting.  In this case it is a plea for help.  Uncommon, but known to every cat owner:  "Please help me!  You're the responsible adult in the room!"

It turns out that this artist, John Everett Millais, was a buddy to Ford Madox Brown from last week's post, The Nosegay.  Well, Mr. Mallais captures so well the situation of a cat needing help. The body language and the mewing are so well represented that I must assume that Millais was a cat "owner."

Mr. Mallais turned out to be a decent artist in his own right.  In addition to the cat image above, he also produced the wonderful image below.  Which, unfortunately, contains absolutely NO cats.  But I found it fascinating nonetheless.

[Political content trigger] Check out this Millais painting called Apple Blossoms.  While it contains cats in the sum of ZERO, it does contain several women whose eyes seem as dead as those of Gov. Scott Walker of WI or Trump advisor Steven Miller.  First the entire painting, then the 3 dead-eye details.




Details of three of the 1800s zombies:









It feels good to venture back into politics!  Sure looks like these ladies are having a ton of fun!  Wish I were there to party with them!


One more reverie: I posted this Cats in Art post back in 2010 after having been to Hannibal, MO.  The painting in question is entitled Fur Traders Descending the Missouri.  Notice any similarities to the first painting at the top?






[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 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!]