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, June 17, 2018

part of the family, 1st c bc

Purchase, Florence and Herbert Irving Gift, 1992
This terracotta relief shows a royal family taking their ease in the company of a few pets. There's mother, father, child, tubby dog having a howl (lower left, on a chain), ducks (lower right) and, partially missing, a monkey (just above the dog).  Expressive and even playful, this scene dates from India during the 1st century BC, and was found at the important Chandraketugarh archaeological site.  (Here is this object's page at the Metropolitan Museum of Art if you'd enjoy more source information.)  What sort of dog might have been around to pamper at that time and place? Sometimes the easiest answer makes the best sense: this looks to me like a well-fed Indian pariah dog, an ancient breed which would have been commonly available. 

Saturday, June 16, 2018

double hedge

www.rijksmuseum.nl (PD)
This strong, playful image of two hedgehogs meeting over an ivy leaf dates from - hold on to your hat - 1892.  It's by Gerrit Willem Dijsselhof (Dutch, 1866-1924), one of the more important figures in Dutch Art Nouveau.
You'll spot a theme when I tell you that the Dutch variant of Art Nouveau was called Nieuwe Kunst; both titles mean "New Art."  In Germany it was called Jugendstil, "youth style," and in Austria, Sezessionstil ("Secession style," that is, created by artists who had seceded from accepted art styles).There's a lot going on in the ideas behind Art Nouveau, and you might enjoy reading more about it on this very informative page.  Where I feel it begins is in its drive toward making even everyday useful things beautiful, in its celebration of sinuous lines, and not least in its delight in natural forms, as we see here.  This seems to have been a vignette or a small book decoration.  There's more examples of Dijsselhof's spot illustrations of creatures here and here.

Friday, June 15, 2018

in which a cat is exhorted to vacate a chair, c 1814

thanks pixabay (CC0 Creative Commons)

In the poem below, the living Cat, and the Cat living at Bristol, is one and the same, and he's named Cropps.  Just so you know going in.

Addressed to a living Cat, and to a Cat living at Bristol.
(Written at Bristol at the Request of her Mistress.)

O CAT! thy virtues to rehearse,
Does honor to my feeble verse;
Sure never cat was like to thee,
Such qualities in you I see;
So kind, so faithful, and so good,
You must be born of noble blood;
So restless after rats and mice,
You scent, then kill 'em in a trice,
If at them you can get, and if not,
Your mistress moves away the black pot
At your request, who, purring, ask
Her to perform that grateful task.
You watch your mistress while asleep,
And on her breast most faithful keep.
O, Cropps! still may you long survive
All other cats that near you live;
When they lie mould'ring in the dust,
May you drink milk to quench your thirst;
While they are rotting in the grave,
May you the house from vermin save;
But that you may, be careful, Cropps,
When into chair your master pops,
You swiftly from that chair descend,
Lest crush'd you are and meet your end.
A burnt child dreads the sight of fire,
And you did nearly once expire;
By stopping in the chair too long.
When down your master sat so strong;
Be careful, then, of master's chair —
I'll say no more to you this year.

-- from Prince, J. H. b. 1770. Eccentric Effusions, Consisting of Poems, Humorous, Satirical, Sentimental And Moral. London, 1814. pp. 65-6.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

prayer to stop a dog from barking

I found a book of charms, prayers and magic songs from the prehistoric Finnish people.  There's words of healing power (for hiccups, a lizard bite, when torn by a wolf or bear); words to chant to attract love, to repulse love, to avoid the cowhouse snake; prayers against wasps and elf-shots.
Here's a prayer to silence a dog:

Field maiden, farmyard girl! O golden king of earth,
here where they need thee, come from the field with thy
family to close the mouth of a dog, to plug the nozzle of a
whelp. Bind silk across its eyes, tie a bandage round its
ears, a mushroom up one nostril thrust, an apple up the
other one, lest it should scent the breath of man, perceive
the smell of a full-grown man, lest it should hear a passer-
by, lest it should see a wanderer.

Try it and let me know if it works!  There's two more in the book, if this one doesn't do the trick.

Abercromby, John Abercromby, baron, 1844-1924. The Pre- And Proto-historic Finns, Both Eastern And Western, With the Magic Songs of the West Finns. London: D. Nutt, 1898. p. 216.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

"the manx cat"

thanks british library flickr

From a slim volume of verse privately printed in 1910:
(You know what's coming, right?  Bad poetry!)

by Marjorie Dyrenforth

Poor tailless pussy cat! if I
Were only very rich,
The very first thing I would buy
Would be for you a switch;
And where your tail should grow, I'd try
The little switch to hitch — oh, my!
But what a pretty pussy cat
You'd be if I could just do that!

-- Dyrenforth, Marjorie. Verses. Chicago, 1910. p. 59.

Monday, June 11, 2018

cat ride

Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Leave it to the cat to find the warmest, cushiest seat handy, even if it's on the human.  This work by the great Persian miniaturist Reza Abbasi (c. 1565-1635) is titled "Man with Cat," and though it measures merely 3 11/16" x 2 x 1/16" it has a snug presence. Abbasi was celebrated for the grace and versatility of his lines, and you can see that very well here. Compare the bold strokes that establish the man's body with the sketched, washed lines of the tree, and then the incredibly fine work of the cat's face as he savors his perch.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

it's pet appreciation week at artswa

June 4-11 is Pet Appreciation Week, and in its honor, Washington's State Art Collection has presented a selection of  creatures in artworks statewide.  There's two Kelly Lyles pieces in this list! Yay!
Look at the list here.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

a faithful parrot

The American symbolist painter Elihu Vedder (1836-1923) spent part of his childhood in Cuba.  After a while his parents thought the climate too hot for his health, and he was sent back to the care of his grandparents in New York.  As he writes in his memoir The Digressions of V., he left one particular friend behind him:
...I began to look sallow, and was packed off North. But I left one broken heart behind me, that of poor Cottorita, my parrot. She had been given me very young, and loved as only a parrot or dog can love. I have always been sorry that I did not take the dear thing with me, for she went about for three days after my departure, calling, " Nino Elijio! Nino Elijio! " and then flew away and was never seen again. When I went to the Spanish school she would station herself at the house-door and wait patiently until I came back, and then, climbing up, never quitted my shoulder. When I remember that a parrot can live a hundred years, there is no reason why she should not be rubbing a dear old head against my cheek at this present moment. Grandpa's old parrot, who had passed his youth among sailors and who used to ask, "What o'clock?" and when told the time, would reply, "You be damned!" amused me, but never consoled me for the loss of poor Cottorita.
-- Vedder, Elihu, 1836-1923. The Digressions of V.. London: Constable , 19111910.p. 76.