Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cats in Art: The Beautiful Kitchen Maid (Boucher)

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


Image credit Arts Prints on Demand (click to enlarge). The Beautiful Kitchen Maid, Francois Boucher, 1732, oil on canvas, 16" x 12", held by Musee Cognacq-Jay, Paris, France.

Zuffi's analysis:

Boucher's woman can only be accompanied by the domestic animal par excellence, which resembles her in its sensibilities and behavior, and is perhaps also a silent, harmless witness to her fetes galantes.  In this pantry there must therefore be a cat, a spectator and accomplice to the amorous idyll, but also a customary denizen of larders and food stores.


My take differs a bit.  My first impression of the painting is that the cat looks demonic, in contrast to the rest of the "innocence (maybe) lost" theme.  While Zuffi considers the cat to be benign, it looks to me to embody the darker potential of the situation.

Also, take note of the size of this painting: only 16" x 12".  Boucher certainly packs a lot of detail into such a tiny space!

 

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