Sunday, September 27, 2015

Cats in Art: The Idle Servant (Maes)

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.  This is the second week in a row that I'll feature the work of Nicolas Maes, with yet another bad kitty misbehaving.

Image credit Web Gallery of Art, The Idle Servant, Nicolas Maes, 1655, oil on panel, 28" x 21", held by National Gallery, London.

And a close up of the infamous idle servant, plus the bonus kitty:

Again, a misbehaving kitty taking advantage of a human lapse.  Looks like the cat is going to make off with a small chicken or piece of meat.  The mistress or head servant seems rather unconcerned, even bemused, by the dozing young lady, despite the mess on the floor that needs cleaned yup.  The boss might not be so complacent if she saw the kitty's evil deed in progress somewhat behind her.

As we saw last week, Maes--a student of Rembrandt--uses diffuse light to focus our attention on the primary elements of the scene, letting the background recede into darkness.

The Web Gallery of Art site offers this analysis, which kinda leaps out at you once you read it:

Maes's personal contribution is the emphasis he places upon creating the illusion of interior space in which the scene is set. Here the stress on the expanse of the floor is not fully successful - the pots and dishes are dangerously close to sliding off it.
Once you read that, the floor definitely seems slanted and the dishes look about to tumble onto the viewer's lap!  But at least the cat seems stable on the cupboard.

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