Sunday, March 19, 2017

Cats in Art: A Sense of Touch (Mercier)

Late post today.

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.  You really should check out and/or own both of these wonderful works, easily available on Amazon or eBay (and I have no financial interest).

Image credit Yale Center for British Art, A Sense of Touch, Philippe Mercier, ca 1744, oil on canvas, 52" x 60", held by Paul Mellon Collection at Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT.

And here's the kitty close-up:

Not a sense of a relaxed cat at all.  "Pissed" is the only word that applies.  Mercier pretty much nails it here.

Bugler's comments:

The tabby cat is at the very centre of this painting, an allegory on the sense of touch, and is central to its meaning, too.  Just as the human hands stretch out to touch or express emotion, so the cat's paws are extended, its claws unsheathed.  It appears to have scratched the man on the left, who is sucking his hand.  As the man is the foreground embraces his sweetheart, so the child is reaching out to stroke the cat's fur.

My take?  This is a reasonably friendly kitty who finds itself in over its head.  Too many humans in the vicinity, surrounding me.  Better lash out and let them know who really is in charge!

Of the five humans, the guy on the far left got bitten and his lady friend is comforting him.  Their interaction with the kitty is now nil.  Over on the right, the joker in the red is forcing himself on his lady friend, who seems less than excited about his romantic moves (she probably ditches him soon).  Likewise, their interaction with the kitty is now also nil.

So scratch (play on words!) the 4 adults. That leaves the little girl, who seems to me to be about 3  years of age (I know such things, having numerous female descendants).  Look at the expression on her face: delight and perhaps a bit of trepidation.  She so wants to touch that kitty but she just saw the guy on the left get nailed.  Let's hope she has a soothing, gentle touch with the cat, which I can say with authority, is a tough prospect for a 3-year old.  Or else she's gonna also fall prey to those sharp claws!

[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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