About Me

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Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

gainsborough's dogs

british librry flickr
In the following anecdote, the painter Thomas Gainsborough (1727-88) and his wife Margaret use the family dogs as intermediaries when domestic quarrels arise.  I could wish Margaret's spaniel had spoken up less submissively, but (sigh) we are talking about 18th-century England.

Thomas Gainsborough, the rival of Sir Joshua in portraiture, wanted that evenness of temper which the President of the Royal Academy so abundantly possessed. He was easily angered, but as soon appeased, and says his biographer, "If he was the first to offend, he was the first to atone. Whenever he spoke crossly to his wife, a remarkably sweet-tempered woman, he would write a note of repentance, sign it with the name of his favourite dog 'Fox' and address it to his Margaret's pet spaniel, 'Tristram.' Fox would take the note in his mouth, and duly deliver it to Tristram. Margaret would then answer 'My own dear Fox, you are always loving and good, and I am a naughty little female ever to worry you, as I too often do, so we will kiss and say no more about it; your own affectionate Tris.'" The writers of such a correspondence could not have led what is called "a cat and dog life." Husbands and wives might derive a hint from this anecdote; for we know, from the old ballad, that they will be sulky and quarrel at times even about getting "Up to bar the door!"
From a collection of animal anecdotes with a name I find pretty funny:
White, Adam, 1817-1879. Heads And Tales, Or, Anecdotes And Stories of Quadrupeds And Other Beasts Chiefly Connected With Incidents In the Histories of More Or Less Distinguished Men. London: J. Nisbet, 1870. pp. 100-101.

Monday, August 21, 2017

tombili, and other monuments

By Nevit (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Today - after a wonderful minivacation that took me away from the Museum (sorry readers! not sorry) - I find Hyperallergic has a much better post than anything I could offer you today. Dating from October 2016, it's "A Tour of Meownuments to the World’s Most Pawesome Cats," and there are feline institutions included about which even I, your friendly Curator, knew nothing. Included: Istanbul's own Tombili, whose statue seems often to be given refreshment and gifts.  As it should be.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

cat of liberty

http://catalogue.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/cb40295786c  (PD) c. 1777-1824
That's what the caption to this intense feline portrait says: "Chat de la liberte," adding "D'apres nature" (from life).  Why does this cat embody liberty?  It seems only Jean-Jacques Lequeu, its illustrator, knew.  Lequeu was an architect and draughtsman in the days leading up to the French Revolution, specializing in visionary, impractical, even eccentric building plans.  He also created a number of more domestic drawings, such as the one above (and a number of pornographic ones).
Lequeu, I think, was one of those people who lives keenly for a particular time and place, and never quite recalibrates afterward.  Post-Revolution, he became a civil servant instead of an architect.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

books, cats

By József Faragó (1866-1906) hungarian graphic (http://www.mke.hu/lyka/02/e2p145k1.jpg) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
This delightful bookplate was designed around 1900 by the Hungarian painter and illustrator Jozsef Farago (1866-1906). Fargo spent time studying and working in Munich and Paris; Art Nouveau was developing at those places and in this time, and I see a simple form of it here.

Monday, August 14, 2017

grab the dog

The Cloisters Collection, 2016 www.metmuseum.org
This sleek guy is a clever bit of 15th or 16th century Spanish ironwork.  He's a door handle.  The streamlined, sinuous curlicue of his tail speaks to me of Moorish influence. Though the Moors fell from power in Spain in the late 15th century, their centuries of presence would have made their graceful patterns very much a part of the area's common visual language.

Friday, August 11, 2017

this poem is not actually about cats

british library flickr (PD)
From a slender anthology of verse written at the University of Cambridge during a period that included WWI: this brief, sad verse, in which we are all mice under the cat of Fate.

I see the broken bodies of women and men,
Temples of God ruined; I see the claws
Of sinister Fate, from the reach of whose feline paws
Never are safe the bodies of women and men.

Almighty Cat, it sits on the Throne of the World,
With paw outstretched, grinning at us, the mice,
Who play our trivial games of virtue and vice,
And pray—to That which sits on the Throne of the World!

From our beginning till all is over and done,
Unwitting who watches, pursuing our personal ends,
Hither and thither we scamper. The paw descends;
The paw descends and all is over and done.

 - Gerald Bullett (1893-1958) in Davison, Edward Lewis, 1898-. Cambridge Poets 1914-1920. Cambridge [Eng.]: W. Heffer & sons ltd., 1920. 31.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

wordless vintage wednesday

yes indeed it's another rerun from the pet museum collection