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 !

Thursday, December 14, 2017


Pieter de Hooch [Public domain, Public domain or CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
In this warm, intimate piece, Pieter de Hooch (Dutch, 1629-circa 1684) shows us "A Mother's Duty." How do you ever pick one out of a busy housewife's day?  As it happens, this particular responsibility consists of delousing a child's hair.  This was a common task until fairly recently in domestic history, time-consuming, but good for some quiet time together.   Here we see mother tending to child in an unhurried fashion, making sure to clear away this small threat to well-being, guarding against disease and discomfort. 
Meanwhile, speaking of guarding, the family dog sits relaxed yet staunch before the open door, ready to evaluate all comers against the family peace.   After all, you never know when that pesky cat might try to get in.  So de Hooch is showing us two kinds of devotion, two kinds of safeguard.  Both as true as you get.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

vintage wordless wednesday redux

from the museum collection

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

little beggar

courtesy national galleries of scotland
Here's "Olaf the Dog Begging," by William Bell Scott (Scottish, 1811-1890), dated 1862.  A friend of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, who was also no slouch at a winsome pet sketch, Scott wrote intimate accounts of Rossetti's Pre-Raphaelite circle.  Known for his landscapes and history paintings, Scott also added industrial themes to his work, one of the first British artists to do so. 
And then he took time out one day to dash off a beady-eyed supplication from his best friend.

Credit line: Purchased 1950.  Link to object webpage here.

Monday, December 11, 2017


Your friendly Curator has been tending to some other biz, so in apology for not keeping up quite as usual, here's a Vimeo clip of a cat playing with bubbles.  Enjoy!

Thursday, December 07, 2017

the parachutist cats

CC BY-SA full attribution below
While I absolutely cannot say I approve of making cats parachute (though I'm sure it was probably only from a few feet up), I adore this poster.   Found originally at Europeana, this gloriously confident kitty is from the collection at the Circus Museum, online in the Netherlands.  See that record here. Now, finding anything about the Cirque Mexicain was tough, but I did find and translate the following from this page:

 Silvestrini (of the Amoros-Silvestrini brothers, who promoted the most circuses at this time and place - curator) was the introducer of Italian circuses in Spain. Two of them began their tour in Girona: the Circus Jarz (also published as Italian, 1957) and the Aurora Italian Circus (also called Casartelli, 1958). Together with the Circo Cristiani (1958), the three maintained the essence of the circus of yesteryear, familiar, with versatile artists, capable of presenting numbers of diverse disciplines. In some seasons, the Amorós-Silvestrini were associated with the Valencian Salvador Hervás, presenting shows like Circo Mexicain. When this circus visited Girona during the fairs of 1959, journalist Jordi Oms interviewed the trainer Gerardi inside the cage, surrounded by seven lions. 

Citation as found at Europeana: Cirque Mexicain The parachutist cats. Organization for Europe and 
Africa, Salvador Hervas http://europeana.eu/portal/record/2021603/teylers_col28_dat11512_TEY0010005765.html. Manzal Circus Museum http://www.circusmuseum.nl/teylers:col28:dat11512:TEY0010005765. CC BY-SA http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/nl/

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

wordless vintage wednesday redux

from the museum collection

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

thomas bewick notes a sagacious dog

see below for attribution
Thomas Bewick (English, 1753-1828) was a naturalist and wood-engraver whose studies and work gained him an excellent reputation as an artist and scholar.  Here's an excerpt from his letters in whch an ancient sheepdog brings him - eventually - just the right model:

* * *
I shall, however, notice an instance, as it happened to occur between my two friends, Mr. Smith, of Woodhall, and Mr. Bailey. The latter, in connection with his report on Cheviot sheep, had given a bad figure of a ram of that breed. This was construed into a design to lessen the character of Mr. Smith's Cheviot sheep, on which, in April, 1798, the latter sent for me to draw and engrave a figure of one of his rams, by way of contrasting it with the figure Mr. Bailey had given. The colour Mr. Smith gave to the business was, not to find fault with Mr. Bailey's figure, but to show hew much he (Mr. Smith) had improved the breed since Mr. Bailey had written his report. Whilst I was at Woodhall, I was struck with the sagacity of a dog belonging to Mr. Smith. The character for sagacity of the Shepherd's Dog was well-known to me, but this instance of it was exemplified before my own eyes. Mr. Smith wished to have a particular ram brought out from amongst the flock, for the purpose of my seeing it. Before we set out, he observed to the shepherd, that he thought the old dog (he was grey-headed and almost blind) would do well enough for what he wanted with him. Before we reached the down, where the flock was feeding, I observed that Mr. Smith was talking to the dog before he ordered him off on his errand; and, while we were conversing on some indifferent subject, the dog brought a ram before us. Mr. Smith found a deal of fault with the dog, saying, Did I not order you so and so? and he scolded him for bringing a wrong sheep, and then, after fresh directions, set him off again to bring the one he wished me to see. We then returned home, and shortly after our arrival there, the dog brought the very ram wanted, along with a few other sheep, into the fold, where I took a drawing of him.
* * *

From Bewick, Thomas, 1753-1828. A Memoir of Thomas Bewick. Newcastle-on-Tyne: Printed by Robert Ward for Jane Bewick , 1862. 182-3.

The illustration: By Thomas Bewick - http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/345995This file was donated to Wikimedia Commons by as part of a project by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=60859319

Monday, December 04, 2017

put the cat in charge of the cheese: proverbs

From a book of Arabic proverbs, published in 1891:

  • Put the cat in charge of the cheese, and girdle him with the sausage.
  • They gave the bear silk to wind into balls. (Said of someone given a task they are unfit to do)
  • The cat eats his supper. (Said of someone who's been duped)
  • A dog laden with piasters. (A rich miser, or someone wealthy who chooses to live poorly)
  • Accustom a dog to your kindness, but don't accustom a man to it. (The dog will be grateful - the man won't.)
  • He who needs the dog says to him "Good morning, my lord."
  • They said to the wolf: Do not walk behind the sheep, their dust will hurt your eyes.  He replied: Their dust is kuhl (kohl, eyeliner) to my eyes.
  • Can you make ducks afraid of drowning?
From Jewett, James Richard, 1862-1943. Arabic Proverbs And Proverbial Phrases. New Haven: American Oriental society, 1891, passim.