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 !

Sunday, May 05, 2019

posada's fat cat dances

www.metmuseum.org Gift of Roberto Berdecio, 1960 (PD)

For Cinco de Mayo I'm bringing you this sprightly wood-engraved scene by Jose Guadalupe Posada.  Here in Mujer bailando con gato (Woman Dancing with a Cat, c. 1900) a dancer steps out in her fine fringed shawl, surrounded by her similarly decked friends.  But why's the cat in a tailcoat?  After doing a little reading on Posada (like here), I think this is his way of lampooning a personage, a fat cat.  You have to admit that cat isn't skinny, and the fancy coat has long been shorthand for identifying bankers, politicos and other possibly-corruptible callings.  Is this poking fun at an official playing at being "man of the people"?  

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

"on a favourite dog" c. 1715

thanks british library flickr (PD)
Mary Monck (Irish, d. 1715)  was the second daughter of the first Viscount Molesworth; the wife of George Monck of Dublin; accomplished in Latin, Spanish and Italian; and a poet whose verse was published by her father after her death.  In that slim volume, titled Marinda: Poems and Translations upon Several Occasions, there's the following short and tender reflection:

On a Favourite Dog
Press gently on him, earth, and all around
Ye flowers spring up, and deck th' enamelled ground,
Breathe forth your choicest odours, and perfume
With all your fragrant sweets his little tomb.

This was likely in honor of her father's white greyhound, who died in 1714 and in whose honor a monument was raised near the family's English estate in Yorkshire.  You can see that monument and read more on its history here. (Scroll to page 2.)

Poem found in:  Squire, John Collings, Sir, 1884-1958. A Book of Women's Verse. Oxford: The Clarendon press, 1921, p. 48.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

snail world, puppy world

http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e0-cb1d-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99 (PD)
"A World of Things" (Momoyagusa) is a 3-volume set of woodblock prints by Japan's last great Rinpa-style master, Kamisaka Sekka (1866-1942).  Rinpa was a style celebrating the natural world; when you learn that Sekka was sent to study in Europe during the Art Nouveau period, with its sinuous take on nature, you know you're in for some elegant viewing.  So it is with print no. 18 from the second volume in the set.  See how the rounded puppies look kind of like great big snails themselves?  Even the snail seems to wonder about this as he stretches out his eyestalks to get a good look.  Meanwhile, the puppy in back has such a funny look on his face.  He's hanging back, but he wants to know what's up.  Have fun, little friends.

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

seal of approval

2100 BC, Mesopotamia: it's another day at the brickworks, and you've just impressed the official stamp on a fresh, moist, kiln-bound brick.  So who let the dog in?  To learn a little more, here's the brick's page at the British Museum.

Monday, March 11, 2019

drink to the dogs

Gift of Ernest Brummer, 1957 www.metmuseum.org
Perhaps this was a hunting cup: one hand on your weapons, one on your wine (so, one handled), and round the rim of the cup homage to the very dogs that were helping you chase down the prey.  This is a Greek skyphos, a deep cup, dating from the late 8th to the early 7th century B.C.   See where the handle's been placed?  Imagine holding that.  It probably helped stabilize the beverage.  Here's this item's original page at the Met if you would like to learn a little more.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

amsterdam blep

www.rijksmuseum.nl (PD)
http://hdl.handle.net/10934/RM0001.COLLECT.111262
Longtime Museum friends know that I often wish books still included decorations like this: at the end or beginning of a chapter, perhaps, or at the bottom of the page because why not.  This particular one was etched sometime in the mid-1700's by Simon Fokke (Dutch, 1712-84), who made his living on tiny portraits and book vignettes.  Whomever commissioned this tiny treasure must have had a sense of humor, because when you look closely....


Blep!
Or whatever you personally call a happy stuck-out dog tongue.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

string!


Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch, www.nga.gov (PD)
This delicate portrait by Joseph Goodhue Chandler (American, 1813-84) dates from c. 1836-38.  He had only just embarked on his painting career, and most of his early work is of family members.  Perhaps this brown-eyed "Girl With a Kitten" is one of these relations.  It's interesting to me how well modeled her face is compared to the flattened treatment of her dress and her pose; I also note the fine spray of greenery outside the window, which to me reflects all the tender growing this young lady has ahead.  As sweet as she looks, she's got a fierce companion:



Would you look at that face?  What a mighty hunter.  

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

wordless vintage wednesday redux

from the museum collection