Sunday, February 7, 2016

Cats in Art: The Madonna of the Cat (Romano)

From my continuing weekly Sunday series of cats in art.  Having moved on from Stefano Zuffi's marvelous work, The Cat in ArtI am now using some ideas from Caroline Bugler's equally impressive book, The Cat/3500 Years of the Cat in Art.

Since last week's post was The Madonna of the Cat, I figure it'd only be fitting to make this week's post also The Madonna of the Cat.

I guess there was a shortage of unique titles back in the 1500s.  See, last week's painting was by Federico Barroci (1575), and today's is by Guilio Romano (1520).  Same title...although if you do enough looking around at museum web sites as I do, you will quickly see that titles can be kinda soft.  Unless the artist wrote down his/her actual title, it fell to future generations to develop the name for the image.  Thus both of these have been called The Madonna of the Cat...or something else.

Turns out I previously used the Romano image for a Cats in Art post back in 2011, so here is that post again:

The Madonna of the Cat: image credit here, Giulio Pippi (known as Giulio Romano), 1520, oil on wood, 171 x 143 cm, held by Capodimonte National Museum and Galleries, Naples, Italy.

And here is the kitty, cropped and close up:

The figures in the painting are Mary and Jesus, and Elizabeth and John (the Baptist).  Zuffi points out that the only figure in the painting that looks directly at the viewer is the cat, "...crouching vigilantly to the right."  He goes on:

The magnetism of this animal--only apparently marginal and extraneous to the overall design of the composition--justifies the title by which the painting is traditionally known.

If it were one of my cats, it would have bitten my toes by now.  The Madonna's surely are at risk, especially if Baby Jesus were to crawl over and pull the cat's tail.

[Gary note: With my Cats in Arts posts, I encourage you to scope out the art appreciation site Artsy (I have no financial interest in the site, I just like it), where you can explore many aspects of the world of art.  You'll certainly be entertained and enlightened!]

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