Sunday, September 4, 2011

Cats in Art: Children Teaching a Cat to Dance (Steen)

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.  Last week's post was Steen's painting of Children Teaching a Cat to Read, and when I Googled it I noted numerous hits on another Jan Steen painting, the topic of this post, Children Teaching a Cat to Dance.

Image credit Rijkmuseum, here.  Jan Steen, Children Teaching a Cat to Dance, also known as "The Dancing Lesson," c. 1665-1668, oil on panel, 68 cm x 59 cm, held by Rijkmuseum, Amsterdam.  From the museum's description:

Four children are playing with a cat, making it dance. At the centre, a young boy is holding the cat by its front paws while the girl plays a flute and the other two children watch laughing. The cat screeches, the dog barks and the old man looks out of the window. [Gary note: I don't see any old man?] The scene is mainly painted in beige and brown tones. Only the girl is wearing brightly coloured clothes: the blue of her dress is particularly bright and striking. This painting is a 'typical Jan Steen': an amusing scene in a domestic setting with a sexual undertone to the symbolism.

I'm not sure I get the sexual undertone assertion, but the painting is indeed vibrant and almost sensual.  It is clear that Steen was a big fan of cats (undoubtedly they were his principal muses!), sprinkling them liberally and prominently in his paintings.

As for the cat, it obviously is cataloging the humiliation and will exact proper payback at a later date.


No comments:

Post a Comment