Sunday, August 26, 2018

Cats in Art: The Swaddled Cat (Gerard and Fragonard)

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).

As you will see below, after some 5 weeks of Jean-Honore Fragonard art, this post is a bridge collaboration between Fragonard and his young sister-in-law, Marguerite Gerard.

Then I'll focus upon Marguerite Gerard in her own right over the ensuing several weeks.

Image credit Museum de GrasseMarguerite Gerard, The Swaddled Cat, 1778, brown wash and black chalk, 17" x 14", held by Museum de Grasse, Grasse, Provence, France.

And the super cute kitty close-up:

Bugler tells us:

A little girl plays dolly with a young cat who seems to be joining in with relish; with eyes half-closed he does not look in the least unhappy to be bound up and laid on his back.
One can easily understand why, in 1778, for her first foray into engraving,  the sixteen year old Marguerite Gerard--with assistance from Fragonard himself, her brother-in-law and teacher--chose to reproduce this composition that she surely must have found amusing.  Gerard too must have been a cat lover, as some fine specimens are to be found in her own paintings.

Around 1775, Marguerite Gérard, who was barely able to ready and write, moved into the house of her sister, Marie-Anne Gérard, who had been married to Jean-Honoré Fragonard for six years. She became Fragonard's pupil and learned to paint, draw and engrave. Fragonard undoubtedly corrected the drawings of his young pupil and introduced her to etching, which enabled her to proudly sign this first print in 1778: The Swaddled Cat.  In 1780, she began to collaborate with the master, as shown by the engravings which include the statement "painted by Fragonard and Miss Gérard", and the signing of several prints.

My thoughts? Gerard--as a 16 year old--absolutely nailed the placid kitty's face.  Also, as an aside, when I googled The Swaddled Cat Gerard, I found the museum hit....but then pages of sites that tell you how to wrap up a scared kitty to keep it calm.

[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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