Sunday, June 5, 2016

Cats in Art: A Lion and Three Wolves (de Vos)

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.  

This is the third of three posts featuring some art from Paul de Vos.

Image credit Museo del Prado, Un Leon y Tres Lobos (A Lion and Three Wolves), Paul de Vos, ca 1640s, oil on canvas, 63" x 78", held by Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain.

The poor lion seems to be getting his clock cleaned by the wolves, although one doesn't know the next stage of the fight.  Perhaps the lion would slink off, leaving the kill to the canids.

And the lion seems a bit small, or the wolves a tad too large, thus enhancing the combat value.  Ordinarily I'd think a lion would have little trouble handling a trio of wolves...which brings upo the question as to whether wolves and lions do in fact overlap their ranges?  I think that's probable, but it would have been waaaaaay back before human ascendancy.

As with all the paintings I look at, I try to imagine time and place--what compelled the artist to paint this particular image?  Were wolves and lions a serious issue in Flanders in the 1600s?  Somehow I doubt it.  Did Paul and his wife (assuming he was married) sit around the kitchen table, and he says (in Flemish), "You know, honey, I think I'm going to paint a fight between a lion and a wolf."  Then she might have said, "Better make it three wolves--lions are tough, you know!  Make sure to put in a bloody dead sheep for shock value."

You get the idea.  I always, always, try to keep in mind that these paintings we see hundreds of years later were painted by people as real as you and me, not dusty figures partially lost in history.

[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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