Sunday, November 23, 2014

Cats in Art: Last Supper (Rosselli)

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.  

The bride and I recently returned from a couple weeks in Europe, the trip of a lifetime.  We first took a Rhine River cruise downstream from Basel, Switzerland to Amsterdam, Netherlands.  Then we remained 3 more days each in Amsterdam and Rome.  While in Europe, my Cats in Art became a sort of quest for us and the others of our group, so the next few weeks here on Sundays will be focused on our kitty discoveries in the Old World.

Today's subject is from the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, a place that figuratively knocked my artistic socks off.  
Of the large crew of artists who were commissioned to liven up the place with their art, Michaelangelo's frescos on the ceiling get a lot of attention. deservedly so, but the wall art also is mind-numbing beautiful.  That's where you'll find Last Supper by Rosselli.

In the image below I cropped out some of the edges that were painted to look like the framing of a traditional painting, just to focus on the core image:

Image credit WikipediaThe Last Supper, Cosimo Rosselli, 1482, fresco (oil on plaster), 11' x 18', held by the Vatican as part of the Sistine Chapel.  The cat is in the right center foreground, scrapping with a dog, but pretty small in this huge fresco, so here's the close-up of the kitty:

Wiki explains the symbology:

The scene is part of the Stories of Jesus cycle and, like the others, shows more than an episode at the same time. The frieze has the inscription REPLICATIO LEGISEVANGELICAEA CHRISTO. The supper is set in a semi-circular apse, with a horseshoe-shaped table at whose center sits Jesus, sided by the apostles. Judas, as usual, is depicted on the side, from behind: the fighting cat and dog are elements which further stress his negative connotation. The scene shows the moment immediately after Jesus' annunciation that one apostle would betray him. His hearers' reactions include touching their own chest, or mumbling one with each other.

I wonder if Rosselli had a particular cat that served as the model for this painting, or if it was just a compilation of felines?  I like to think that there was this one kitty, who hung out at the Vatican, and who Rosselli befriended and painted into art immortality.

Note: I posted about this piece previously back in 2011, here.  But now I've seen it with my own eyes....

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