Sunday, May 17, 2015

Cats in Art: Adam and Eve (Durer)

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.  

First, the full size work (though, pay close attention to what size it really is...see below):

And next a detailed close up of the kitty and mouse at the bottom center:

Image credits Metropolitan Museum, Adam and Eve, Albrecht Durer, 1504, engraving on copper, 10" x 7", held by the Metropolitan Museum, New York.

Zuffi's comment?

We are looking at one of the most complex masterpieces of the engraver's art, in which this great German artist brings together highly advanced research on the male and female anatomy...The big cat is the symbolic representation of the choleric temperament: with its half-closed eyes and relaxed pose, it seems lazy, indolent, and indifferent.  However, if we look closely we discover that it may be keeping an eye on a little mouse, whose tail has gotten caught under Adam's foot.  At the right moment the cat will suddenly pounce, leaving its hapless prey no escape.  Thus, at the moment of Original Sin, the Garden of Eden is enhanced by an additional dramatic dimension.

My take?  When Zuffi uses the words "lazy, indolent, and indifferent," I just say, "Duh.  That's a cat for you."

Also, did you note the dimensions of this engraving?  It is a mere 10" tall by 7" wide, and packed with incredible detail.  The cat itself is only about 3" in length.

I cannot imagine the meticulous work that must have gone into this piece.  The etching lines are incredibly tiny and compact.  This is an item that would truly have to be seen in person to fully appreciate (so I guess that means a research trip to NYC?).

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