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!]


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Cats in Art: Rest in Peace, Tizzy

Departing from my normal script here to bide farewell to our Tizzy, who died at age 12 over the winter.  I guess she just ran out of lives, not because she lived hard and fast, but according to her personality, she just kinda moseyed off into the hereafter (and cancer propelled her along).

Couple of years ago I posted the post below.  The original link is here.

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

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Cats in Art: My Very Own Renaissance Kitty

UPDATED--See bottom of post!

I was sitting on the recliner the other day.  Tizzy, who had been on my chest getting stroked and petted, either got too warm or had had enough cat love, and went to lay at the bottom of the recliner.  She likes the spot where the footrest comes up: it makes a slightly V-shaped "bed" to lay in.

As the sun shone on Tizzy, she looked exactly to me as though she were a Renaissance kitty.  I had my camera within reach and snapped this image:
[image credit Gary]
Why do I refer to her as a Renaissance kitty?  See any parallels with this image?

[image credit Amazon]

This is the cover of the Zuffi book that has served as inspiration for my Cats in Art series of posts that I've been running on Sundays here for a couple of years now.  The book's dust cover is a detail from the Frederico Barocchi painting The Annunciation (1584, oil on wood transferred onto canvas, approx 97" x 67", held in the Vatican Art Gallery collection  Santa Maria Degli Angeli, Assisi, Italy).

Those dimensions above are for the entire painting, which is BIG--about 8 feet high and nearly 6 feet wide.  The kitty is snuggled in the lower left corner and by my reckoning covers a space about the size of an ordinary sheet of paper.  

Just for kicks here's the entire image of The Annunciation, with the marvelous kitty way down there in the lower left corner:

[image credit here]

So...if I ever make it to the Vatican, the Pope will just have to wait until I've scoped out this magnificent painting.

UPDATE: I was wrong about the museum: there painting is actually held at Santa Maria Degli Angeli, Assisi, Italy.  How do I know this?  The bride and I were actually just in Italy--and at the Vatican--a couple of weeks ago, and the painting was nowhere to be found.  My apologies for the error; I had written this post some months back, scheduled it for 2 Nov, and did not review it before it posted.  Oops!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Cats in Art: A Girl Holding a Cat (Mercier)

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 Art UK, A Girl Holding a Cat, Philippe Mercier, ca 1750, oil on canvas, 36" x 28", held by National Galleries of Scotland, Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland

And the close-up of the little black kitty, with the girl thrown in for good measure, since her face is also of interest:




I am totally smitten with this little cat, who obviously is still a kitten (perhaps because we have a petite all-black cat as well, interestingly named Ca Beere, whose heart and personality are off the scale).  

Mercier captures perfectly the facial expression of this kitten: one of eager anticipation.  The cat is up for anything: being held by the girl is OK (for now!), but as soon as something better pops up, the kitty will be gone.  I also love the girl's expression, one of calm happiness, holding a favorite pet.  

As with the kitty's face, Mercier really gets this girl's face right as well.  Faces are tough, and from perusing numerous other Mercier paintings, in which he either paints young people with adult faces or renders them woodenly and unlifelike, he is on his game here.  Perhaps it was years of practice, as this painting was done near the end of his life, when Mercier was about 60 (he lived to be 71).

[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 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!]