Sunday, March 27, 2016

Cats in Art: The Four Evangelists (Rubens)

Happy Easter!

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.

The bride and I recently visited the Ringling Brothers art museum in Sarasota, FL.  This is post 2 of 4 of some of the artworks we saw there.  If you get a chance, GO!

From the Triumph of the Eucharist series of huge paintings:

Image credit The Ringling Museum, The Four Evangelists, Peter Paul Rubens, 1625, oil on canvas, 123" x 126", held by the Ringling Museum, Sarasota, FL.

 And the close-up of the lion's butt down at the lower left:

Per the museum web site, an explanation of the collection in general:

The Ringling Museum’s European Old Master paintings are the premier collection of this material in the American Southeast. The collection reflects the taste of the circus impresario, financier, and art collector John Ringling, who assembled the majority of the collection between 1925 and 1936. 

OK, I have no idea why Rubens featured the lion's butt (although in fairness, his head is kinda visible, but the rear end is definitely the focus).  Regardless, the kitty isn't the main draw--the sheer size of the canvas is breathtaking, some 10' square.  That's ten feet on each side, an immense painting.

Three of the four evangelists (and I didn't research to tell you who is painted here) are clearly focused with eyes upwards  towards the angels.  It's the last guy, however, the one on the left, that draws my attention, for he seems to be the lion handler.  At least he's the one closest to the kitty, plus the man is not looking toward any of the angels.

That said, you can see a hand right near the lion's face...but it is the hand of the second guy from the left, the one with the book, absentmindedly, perhaps, dangling his unguarded fingers inches ways from getting chomped.  One would presume, however, that any evangelist worth his or her salt would have a connection to God and would therefore be protected from any detrimental animal encounters.

And while I cannot tell whether the painting has been curated/restored, I can tell you that it is as bright and clear in person as it appears in this image.  It is a vibrant, energetic work, one that is even more inspiring up close and personal.

Again, everyone goes to Florida sometime in their lives.  Make it a point to check out the Ringling Museum.

[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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