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 !

Saturday, March 25, 2017

kiss and make up, 1797

thanks http://gallica.bnf.fr (PD)
History lesson, everybody!  What European peace treaty does this odd picture represent?  No, I didn't know either...

The caption reads, "Le Traité de paix avec Rome : baisez ça papa et faite pate de velours." Translated as best I can: The peace treaty with Rome, kissing the Pope and keeping a good face on it.  
There's a possibility the actual meaning might be a lot cruder, considering this is a satire of the Treaty of Tolentino of February 1797 in which Napoleon imposed terms of surrender on the Papal States.  So the cat in the hat there is the Pope, accepting a branch of peace that isn't going to end well for him and he knows it.  The Pope in question, Pius VI, was shuttled off to exile, and died a year later in France.

Friday, March 24, 2017


thanks vintage printable (PD)
Yes, it's Friday....time to come home after work, take a bath and do your own thing. This illustration from an 1869 book titled Les chats: histoire, moeurs, observations, anecdotes (Cats: History, morals, observations, anecdotes) is based on a watercolor by the great Swiss cat painter Gottfried Mind.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

a cat can smooch for a king

In which Louis XIV of France bestows upon a beautiful girl a treat/honor beyond compare (that is, if you're Louis XIV). . .

Louis XIV petted himself more than any living creature; yet he had some sympathy to spare for his numerous dogs; he even had their portraits painted, at a considerable cost; and he also, presumably, had a favorite cat—if the story in Swift’s Memoirs is one to be relied upon. This story is to the effect that during the reign of Queen Anne, a Miss Nelly Bennet, a young lady who took prestige as a great beauty, visited the French court.
She traveled in the care of witty Dr. Arbuthnot, who in a letter to the Dean, describes the outbursts of admiration that greeted his fair charge.  “She had great honours done her,” he remarks, then adds,“and the hussar himself was ordered to bring her the king’s cat to kiss."
When this important bit of news came to be reported in England, a wit, now unknown, wrote a poem on the event, describing how
When as Nelly came to France
(Invited by her cousins),
Across the Tuileries each glance
Killed Frenchmen by whole dozens.
The king, as he at dinner sat,
Did beckon to his hussar,
And bid him bring his tabby-cat
For charming Nell to buss her."
-- Lewis, E. (1892). Famous pets of famous people. Boston: D. Lothrop Company. 109-10.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

vintage wordless wednesday repeat

from my collection. i have to find more!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

in which a duke's dog asserts himself

Nicasius Bernaerts [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
France, 1665: the Flemish animal portraitist Nicasius Bernaerts paints the majestic "Tambon, dog of the Duke of Vendome."  What about that other dog?  Is he simply there to be repressed?
Bernaerts was known for hunting scenes portrayed with energy and even violence, and also for animal portraits that showed close attention to the anatomy of the animal portrayed; in fact Louis XIV hired him to create portraits of all the newest animals at the Versailles menagerie.  Here in this beautiful (and sizable: 50" x 37") oil on canvas, there's no overt violence, but the smaller dog is deeply distressed by Tambon's checking paw.  Is that a reference to Tambon's master?
Which Duke of Vendome claimed this animal and by extension his power?  There were two Dukes of Vendome in 1665: Cesar de Bourbon, and then at his death in October, his son Louis de Bourbon.  I think it had to be Cesar, as Louise had entered the church in 1657 after the death of his wife.  Not that this was any major obstacle to owning a fine dog or anything else at that time and place.

Monday, March 20, 2017

cat ads of the world

So you've seen that hilarious German ad for Netto Marken-Discount grocery stores, yes?  The one that rolls in all the cat memes?  Excellent.  That sent me on a kick...

  • to this Japanese ad featuring a most unexpected, if pleasant, result of chewing refreshing gum
  • and another from Japan in which "E-Neko" urges you to conserve energy
  • these two British milk ads, which are a titch adversarial (and also very funny)
  • Audi thought it could get away without using cats. Wrong
  • Sweden's Folksam insurance company believes cats can fly
  • Best chocolate biscuits ever.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

a horse enlists, 1918

thanks thegraphicsfairy.com
From the WWI era (note reference to the Hun - it's a derogatory term for Germans):  a horse does his bit in this heartfelt poem..

Rebecca N. Porter

I hadn't been troubled about the war,
For under the kind blue skies
I was happy, and free to roam the fields
As the vagrant butterflies.
But all in a day, the clouds grew gray
And darkened my Paradise,
For “The One Whom I Loved The Best” embarked
On the voyage of sacrifice.

And no one explained, and no one came
Through the darkness to comfort me,
And my life grew chill, and my heart grew hot
With a speechless misery.
I cannot tell how my shackles fell,
But God must have heard my prayer,
And I too traveled the watery trail
To join the boys over there.

They say that some men dread to come,
Though all that they hold most dear
Is at stake on the altar of No-Man's-Land,
'Twixt the Hun and free-born here.
'Tis enough for me, that the One I Would See
Is “somewhere among this force,”
And together we fight with a God who heard
The prayer of a little brown horse.

from Animals. [Boston: Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals]. Vol 51 No. 1 (June 1918), p. 12.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

dog lock

thanks finds.org.uk DEN-0F2C87 CC BY 2.0
When a countryside has been inhabited for a very long time, it stands to reason that as you go about your business - digging up your carrots, putting in that new septic tank - you might well find stuff left behind by someone.  Left when, though?  In the Flintshire district of Wales in 2008, a metal detector turned up this dog-shaped lock. (Or lion shaped, but I think it looks like a Newfoundland myself.)  It's been hanging about since approximately 1200 A.D.
I found it on the Portable Antiquities Scheme website, a project funded by the UK government to "promote the voluntary recording of archaeological objects found by members of the public in England and Wales."  You should go look at it. It's cool.
Animal imagery played a huge part in medieval art, not least for its symbolism; I can well imagine a protective padlock would be made in the shape of a guard dog.  Here is an essay at the Met website on the subject.