Sunday, August 23, 2015

Cats in Art: Netherlandish Proverbs (Bruegel the Elder)

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.  

Image credits Web Gallery of Art, Netehrlandish Proverbs, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1559, oil on wood, 46" x 64", held by Gemalddegalerie, Staatliche Museum, Berlin, GE.

See the kitty to the left middle foreground?  Didn't think so, thus the detail:

Zuffi's comments:

On the wall by the house on the left, a man is engaged in a foolish attempt to "put a bell on a cat."  There are several reasons why such an undertaking makes no sense, notably the difficulty of soothing the animal, although this cat seems rather docile and the man in armor has amply protected himself from its claws.  Once fitted with a bell, and therefore advertising its presence from a distance, the cat is no longer able to perform its chief function, that of catching mice, thus bringing loss and misfortune to its owners.  With this episode Bruegel seems to be urging us to refrain from risky and essentially vain undertakings, while at the same time censuring those cowards who need to arm themselves to acquire courage.

I'm not sure of Zuffi's analysis there at the end, because I'm thinking about using armor for the next time I need to put flea meds on my cat Amanda.  Guess I'm a wuss.

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