Sunday, October 15, 2017

Cats in Art: Merchant's Wife on the Balcony (Kustodiev)

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).

This is the second of a pair of posts on the cat art of Boris Kustodiev.

Image credit WikiArt (image 382 of 645), Merchant's Wife on the Balcony, Boris Kustodiev, 1920, no other information available.

And the kitty close-up, looking much the same as she did last week.

On the WikiArt page for Kustodiev, I scrolled through all of the 645 images preserved there, with a couple of observations.  First, he was a prolific artist.  Next, he seemed almost obsessed with "merchants," using that subject and title in many paintings.  Last, he seemed to be untouched by the Russian Revolution.  Other than a couple of military images, looks like life went on as usual...unless Kustodiev deliberately painted "normal" scenes as an antidote to political and social upheaval?

Contrast this image with the parallel image from last week. Same fruit, same table, same cat, similar background.  But the woman seems different to me, and it's not just the substitution of a red dress for black and a different angle for the view.  Her hair is distinctly different, as is her face.

And as I examine the cat, I am hard-pressed to note any real differences in the way the cat herself is rendered.

As I've done my Cats in Art posts over the past 5+ years, I am struck by how many times an artist--many artists--revisits the same subject, tweaking it, changing it subtly or massively, renaming it (or not).  It's as though the original was just not right, and the artist just needs to scratch that itch by redoing the piece, sometimes multiple times.

[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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