Sunday, October 9, 2016

Cats in Art: The Ray (Chardin)

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

Image credit The Louvre, The Ray, Jean-Simeon Chardin, 1725, oil on canvas, 45" x 57", held by The Louvre, Paris, France.

And the kitty close-up:

Bugler tells us:

Chardin's early masterpiece is a painting in tow halves: on thee right are the kinds of humble kitchen utensil around which the artist constructed many still lives, and on the left is a tense drama played out between the kitten, making its way gingerly towards tow limp fish in the foreground, and the hideous ray or skate with an all-too-human face, grimacing menacingly in the background.

As for me, I found the kitten's face disturbing, mouth open, looking somewhat crazed (I like seafood too, but I hope I never approach it looking like this cat does!).

All in all, a dark and foreboding painting.

Zuffi also had this comment:

The secret and the magic of Chardin's paintings lie in their cold, sterile light, which seems to saturate objects, and in the intimate absorption that seems to endow them with a timeless existence.  The only living presence--and it is very much alive, with its bristling fur and demonic eyes--is the cat, who is more interested in the fish placed on the table than in the hug sea monster in the background.

[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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