Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cats in Art: Awakening (Sophie Gengembre Anderson)

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

I first must observe that this week's post was a real exercise in detective work in the on-line art world.

And I failed.

Zuffi's book (pp 256-257) contains a full page + image of a young girl holding a gray tabby cat, painted by Sophie Gengembre Anderson, identified as belonging to the Pre-Raphaelite school of painters.  It is not in a museum, but is held in an unidentified private collection.  Anderson was British, but painted in Paris.

On-line, I could find no image of this work, nor even a title listing it as one of Anderson's works.  It's as though this painting does not exist.  But somehow Zuffi managed not only to find this cat image but to capture the image from the private collector for inclusion in his book.

So, all I can do is to provide a scan of the image in Zuffi's book:

Image credit Stefano Zuffi, The Cat in Art, Awakening, 1881, Sophie Gengembre Anderson, oil on canvas, 26" x 31", held in private collection.
I think it was the cat's face that first grabbed me, a nearly perfect rendering of our first cat, Sam.  But then the title intrigued me: whose awakening?  The cat or the girl waking up?--I doubt it.  How about the girl on the verge of adolescence?--possibly, but she looks a little young.  So we just don't know.
In my travels to find this image I did find a Wikimedia Commons site, first in French and then a shorter version in English, that contained some 25 images of Anderson's work.  Here's one that really captures Anderson's style and essence (NOTE: this image, sadly, does not contain a cat):

Image credit Wikimedia Commons, Take the Fair Face of Woman
The Wikimedia Commons site contains some 25 images of Anderson's works.  By all means go there and be as amazed as I was.

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