Sunday, July 3, 2011

Cats in Art: The Spinners (Velazquez)

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 here. The Spinners, c. 1657, Diego Velazquez, oil on canvas, 86" x 113", held by Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain.

Zuffi discusses the many interpretations of this work "...which, for some, sums up the whole of Western art on its own...."

Wow, that's quite a painting, I'd say.  But lets focus on what Zuffi says of the cat at the lower right:
Is it a mere decorative element, or is it a symbol of freedom, linked to loyalty to the Spanish crown (and as such, a symbolic representation of the strong working and intellectual relationship between Velazquez and Philip IV?  Critics seem to disagree over these interpretations. In the meantime, the cat, confirming its ancient reputation for laziness and indolence, is the only living thing that is idle in this setting that, in contrast, is a hive of activity.

I can't comment on the royalty intrigue, but I can interpret the cat: smart cat, that one.

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