Sunday, April 14, 2013

Cats in Art: Miss Lily Walton (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 6 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, Miss Lily Walton, 1922, Suzanne Valadon, oil on canvas, held in private collection.
Last week's post featured Raminou, and we see him again here.  Although he occupies but a fraction of the canvas, Raminou is clearly the focal point of this painting.  Truth be told, Miss Lily Walton is merely a prop for the kitty.  The title should have been Raminou Sitting on Some Lady's Lap.
The differences in facial expression between the two subjects is marked.  Raminou seems relaxed, yet alert and eager for human interaction; Lily, on the other hand, appears distinctly uncomfortable.  She just must not be a cat person, and that's her loss.

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