Sunday, July 21, 2013

Cats in Art: Fur Traders Descending the Missouri (Bingham)

Life is interfering with blogging...this is a repost...but the kitty is still mysterious and compelling, and Bingham as a painter sure knew how to intrigue the observer....

The above photo is entitled Fur Traders Descending the Missouri, by George Caleb Bingham (1811–1879), painted in 1845, oil on canvas, dimensions 29 x 36 1/2 inches. Credit for the image here.

Why post this? I love cats, I love art, and this is a natural confluence. I've decided that I'm going to do a continuing series of posts on instances of cats appearing in works of art. I've previously done this here, when I posted on a 122 Year Old Cat in a Night Cafe, based upon a painting by Paul Gauguin, with an adorable kitty under the table.

The cat really is the focus of this Bingham painting. The two men are backgrounded by the island, while the cat is silhouetted by the pale river as background and pops from the image. I wonder if Bingham strategically placed the cat in the bow of the boat for purposes of realism, or if he was just a cat lover and used the painting as a venue to get a kitty in there.

Also, think about the title--Fur Traders Descending the Missouri. This implies that their trapping journey is nearly over (also evidenced by the pile of furs on the canoe). So the cat, presumably, was along for the entirety of the trip, unless they got the kitty from Indians (who only had dogs as domestic animals, I think).

That's one loyal cat. Wonder how many lives he/she used up on the trip?

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