Sunday, December 18, 2016

Cats in Art: A Cat in a Cage (Mind)

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 second of several posts on the works of Gottfried Mind, AKA The Raphael of Cats.

Image credit The Great Cat, A Cat in a Cage, Gottfried Mind, undated, pen and ink with wash on paper, held in a private collection.

And the kitty close-up:

This image appears in Bugler's book with the image from last week of the cat having the upper hand. With this image, the shoe is on the other paw, so to speak.  She tells us:

In what appears to be a pendant to Cat Killing Mice in a Landscape, the mice have got their own back on their arch-enemy by imprisoning it in a cage--a most undignified gaol, in which it sits like an oversized bird.  The theme of mice taunting cats is an ancient one....It relates to the notion of "the world turned upside down," in which oppressors are held in bondage by those they normally oppress.

Mind's cat--if you look at the close-up--really does not seem to be too disturbed.  Its look is more one of interest rather than fear.  Perhaps it's been in the slammer before.

The life and works of Gottfried Mind is a PhD  project just waiting to happen.  I Googled "Biography of Gottfried Mind"and came up virtually empty.  Ditto for "Complete Works of Gottfried Mind."  Go ahead and try it--you'll find some bits and pieces, but there is no authoritative expert.

You could be that person.

For example, one search result that came back: seems that The British Museum does hold a work entitled "Mindiana, Life of Gottfried Mind."  But here is how it starts out:

The album is inscribed at the beginning with eleven pages of an account of the life of the artist, written by G. Fairholme: 'Life of Godfrey Mind. / commonly called / The Raphael of Cats * Amongst the endless varieties of character & disposition presented to our contemplation in the study of the human mind, it would be difficult to find one more worthy of our attention than the unfortunate subject of the present memoir: for the character of Godfrey Mind exhibits such an anomalism of mental powers, as has perhaps never been recorded, to a similar degree. This poor cretin may be regarded as a singular instance of innate natural talent of a high class, & of a particular kind, combined with almost total deficiency of reason, upon any other subject, however simple. 

"This poor cretin."  Really??  Art scholars: Get to work!  Now!

[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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