Sunday, March 31, 2013

Cats in Art: Louison and Raminou (Valadon)

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.

This is part 4 of 7 of a multiweek study of the cat art of Suzanne Valadon. A French painter (1865-1838), she had quite the interesting life (summarized from Wikipedia):

Suzanne Valadon became a circus acrobat at the age of fifteen, but a year later, a fall from a trapeze ended that career. In Paris, she pursued her interest in art, first working as a model for artists, observing and learning their techniques, before becoming a noted painter herself. She modelled for Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (who gave her painting lessons) and Pierre-Auguste Renoir....Valadon frequented the bars and taverns of Paris along with her fellow painters, and she was Toulouse-Lautrec's subject in his oil painting The Hangover....Valadon painted still lifes, portraits, flowers, and landscapes that are noted for their strong composition and vibrant colors. She was, however, best known for her candid female nudes. A perfectionist, she worked on some of her oil paintings for up to 13 years before showing them....A free spirit, she wore a corsage of carrots, kept a goat at her studio to "eat up her bad drawings", and fed caviar (rather than fish) to her "good Catholic" cats on Fridays....Both an asteroid (6937 Valadon) and a crater on Venus are named in her honor.

Image credit Wikipaintings, Louison and Raminou, 1920, Suzanne Valadon, oil on canvas, held in private collection.
As I promised last week, I proudly present to you all the cat called Raminou.  It is extremely rare for a painter to use a cat's name in the title of her work, so my hat is off to Suzanne Valadon.  Nearly a hundred years ago she broke the cat naming barrier in art (although I seem to recall another named cat, much earlier, but a short search of my archives turned up nothing...gotta dig deeper).
Raminou is one big cat, thoroughly covering Louison's lap above and looking like he is about to slide off.  Louison herself looks a bit askance at Raminou, like she is thinking "What's this cat doing on my lap?"  And Raminou looks a bit unsteady, as though he is pondering the age-old cat problem of stay or bolt.
I think the issue was decided in favor of "bolt" immediately after this modeling session.

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