From my continuing weekly Sunday series of cats in art. Having moved on from Stefano Zuffi's marvelous work, The Cat in Art, I 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 Gustave Courbet web site, The Artist's Studio, Gustave Courbet, 1855, oil on canvas, 141" x 232", held by Musee d'Orsay, Paris, France.
From the artist web site:
The enormous Studio is without doubt Courbet's most mysterious composition. However, he provides several clues to its interpretation: "It's the whole world coming to me to be painted", he declared, "on the right, all the shareholders, by that I mean friends, fellow workers,
art lovers. On the left is the other world of everyday life, the masses, wretchedness, poverty, wealth, the exploited and the exploiters, people who make a living from death".
And Bugler's analysis:
Although Courbet wrote about the symbolic role of all the figures played ion this vast composition, he said virtually nothing about the cat; this has encouraged scholars to come up with a variety of theories to explain its presence.
My pet theory: Courbet liked cats.
Which brings me to the kitty close-up, from front and center of the painting:
Just for kicks, let's contrast this vibrant, colorful painting from a website dedicated to the painter, with the flat, gray version that appears on the website of the actual holder, the famous Musee d'Orsay in Paris:
The bride and I are fortunate to be traveling to Paris this fall, and will be able to stand in front of this huge painting--it's a stunning 12' tall and some 19' long--and survey it. Wow, I can't wait!
[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!]