Sunday, June 10, 2018

Cats in Art: The Monkey and the Cat (Oudry)

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.

Today is the fourth of at least 5 posts on the cat art of Jean-Baptiste Oudry.

 Image credit Wikimedia Commons, The Monkey and the Cat, Jean-Baptiste Oudry, 17439, medium and size unspecified, current holder unspecified.

And the kitty close-ups:

In the photo above, isn't that the most honest cat face you have ever seen?  Practically pleading, "I'm trying hard to be a good kitty.  Really!"

Somewhere on the net I found this image and holder of the painting to be attributed to the Birmingham Museum and Gallery in the UK.  That seems not to be the case when I go to the museum web site.  So I presume that this wonderful image hangs in someone's private collection rather than in a museum for all to enjoy.

Anyway, Oudry's image is associated with the fable by the author Jean de la Fontaine:

In La Fontaine's telling, Bertrand the monkey persuades Raton the cat to pull chestnuts from the embers amongst which they are roasting, promising him a share. As the cat scoops them from the fire one by one, burning his paw in the process, the monkey gobbles them up. They are disturbed by a maid entering and the cat gets nothing for its pains. It is from this fable that the French get their idiom Tirer les marrons du feu, meaning to act as someone's dupe or, deriving from that, to benefit from the dirty work of others. It is also the source of the English idiom 'a cat's paw', defined in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as 'one used by another as a tool'. 

Also note that on various sites the title of this work is shown as either The Cat and the Monkey, or The Monkey and the Cat.  Sadly, the latter with its featured billing of the monkey seems to be correct.

[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!]

No comments:

Post a Comment