Sunday, August 27, 2017

Cats in Art: A Flood (Millais)

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 The Athenaeum, A Flood, John Everett Millais, 1870, oil on canvas, 39" x 57", held by Manchester Art Gallery, UK.

And the kitty close up:

Bulger's analysis:

A terrible flood took place in Sheffield in 1864 when the dam of a reservoir burst, causing the deaths of more than 250 people and thousands of cattle.  Reports of a baby being washed out of a home in a a cradle and subsequently rescued from the waters inspired Millais to paint this scene, which is loosely based on the incident.  He shows the child, quite unperturbed, looking up at the raindrops and the birds above, while the black cat, which has sought refuge from the rising waters on the cradle, mews in terror.

I have often seen this type of scenario, where a kitty cries out for something. Usually it's not a flood, but rather a request for milk or cat food or petting.  In this case it is a plea for help.  Uncommon, but known to every cat owner:  "Please help me!  You're the responsible adult in the room!"

It turns out that this artist, John Everett Millais, was a buddy to Ford Madox Brown from last week's post, The Nosegay.  Well, Mr. Mallais captures so well the situation of a cat needing help. The body language and the mewing are so well represented that I must assume that Millais was a cat "owner."

Mr. Mallais turned out to be a decent artist in his own right.  In addition to the cat image above, he also produced the wonderful image below.  Which, unfortunately, contains absolutely NO cats.  But I found it fascinating nonetheless.

[Political content trigger] Check out this Millais painting called Apple Blossoms.  While it contains cats in the sum of ZERO, it does contain several women whose eyes seem as dead as those of Gov. Scott Walker of WI or Trump advisor Steven Miller.  First the entire painting, then the 3 dead-eye details.

Details of three of the 1800s zombies:

It feels good to venture back into politics!  Sure looks like these ladies are having a ton of fun!  Wish I were there to party with them!

One more reverie: I posted this Cats in Art post back in 2010 after having been to Hannibal, MO.  The painting in question is entitled Fur Traders Descending the Missouri.  Notice any similarities to the first painting at the top?

[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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