Sunday, December 31, 2017

Cats in Art: The Fiancee of Belus (Motte)

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).

The bride and I just returned from a wonderful vacation in France where we were privileged to see both the Louvre and Orsay Museums.  Of the two, the Orsay was much better--less crowded, could get closer to the paintings, more cats.

Image credit Gary of image in the Orsay Museum, The Fiancee of Belus, Henri Mott, 1885, oil on canvas, 71" x 49", held by the Orsay Museum Paris, France.

And the close-up of the (rather large!) kitty at the right front:

Our friends at Wikimedia Commons provides an electronic image plus more here.  Apparently the theory behind this image (per Wikipedia) is thus:

...based on a fanciful Babylonian ritual associated with deity Belus (Bel). According to that ritual, Bel was offered a girl who sat on the lap of the Bel's statue overnight, and then was replaced by another, all of whom were the winners of daily beauty contests.

As I have often remarked about various paintings that I have been fortunate enough to see in person, my impression from standing right in front of the wonderful painting was its size and detail.  It's nearly 6 feet high and 4 feet wide.  One can never tell much about size from the image in a coffee table book, unless one reads the narrative to ascertain the true size.  On the small side, I have been blown away by paintings measuring scant inches wide and tall; similarly, I've seen some truly giant canvases.  In either extreme, when you see a painting repro in a book, you simply cannot tell how big the painting really is.

At any rate, Motte nailed it with the lion: regal, powerful, watchful, perhaps even disdainful.  On the macro scale, the overall image is quite interesting: muted and darkened background with a strikingly bright focus upon the poor young lady on Belus' lap.  She no doubt is believing that her being singled out is a most dubious honor.

[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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