Sunday, April 10, 2011

Cats in Art: The Madonna of the Cat (Romano)

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.

The Madonna of the Cat: image credit here, Giulio Pippi (known as Giulio Romano), 1520, oil on wood, 171 x 143 cm, Parma, collection of Barbara Sanseverino.

And here is the kitty, cropped and close up:

The figures in the painting are Mary and Jesus, and Elizabeth and John (the Baptist).  Zuffi points out that the only figure in the painting that looks directly at the viewer is the cat, "...crouching vigilantly to the right."  He goes on:

The magnetism of this animal--only apparently marginal and extraneous to the overall design of the composition--justifies the title by which the painting is traditionally known.

If it were one of my cats, it would have bitten my toes by now.  The Madonna's surely are at risk, especially if Baby Jesus were to crawl over and pull the cat's tail.


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