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, October 27, 2020

the cat (italian quarter, new york city)

 Hans Trausil, a translator and poet of the 1920's, gives us this glimpse of a tough little urban scrapper.

The Cat (Italian Quarter, New York City)

In front of the shop 

Where the copper light of dried fish glitters 

On the door-post like a sun-ray,You see the tail of the hungering one
Brushing the grey pavement.Softly like a wind-blown rag of yellow furIt curls behind the wheel of the wagonWhere she sits feigning a life most tedious;

As though longing for the oblivion of slumberShe huddles crookedly between her lean flanksAnd blinks at you slantingly and yawns,And at times a twitching

Ripples through her hollow bodyWherein dwells the murderess and harlot;As though for pastime she crouches there silently 

A shabby Buddha, solitarily enthroned.

--  Anthology of Magazine Verse. W.S. Braithwaite, ed. New York: Schulte Pub. Co. [etc.], 1922.  p. 12.  Originally in The Measure, March 1922.  (Public Domain)

Monday, October 28, 2019

dogs for your drapes

Courtesy of the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields
Considering how alertly these hunting dogs leap upon the boars and hinds in this panel, I'm surprised at how calm the leopards appear.  The object's page at the Indianapolis Museum of Art doesn't indicate where it was made; were leopards part of the scenery there, or did a European workshop include them to show the valor of the patron's hounds? This textile was made circa 1600, and still retains luscious color. 

Sunday, June 23, 2019

revolutionary dog truce

british library flickr
Germantown, Pennsylvania, October 1777:  American and British troops face each other across the battlefield. They've been doing this since the 4th of October under the commands of Sir William Howe (British) and George Washington (American).  Washington's plan was to surround and entrap the British from all four sides.  Because the American forces weren't as experienced as their opponents, this didn't quite work, and resulted in a defeat for the American forces.
The Battle of Germantown may have been an overall loss, but there was one small win for the Colonies on October 6: a short cease fire was called so the Americans could return a small dog to his owner...his British owner, Sir William Howe.  A terrier with Howe's name on his collar had been found unharmed but grubby on the battlefield.  Washington had the little guy cleaned and fed, then escorted back to Howe under a flag of truce with a note:
General Washington's compliments to General Howe - He does himself the pleasure to return him a dog, which by its collar appears to belong to him accidentally fell into his hands, and by the inscription on the collar appears to belong to his Excellency Sir William General Howe.  
Strikeouts are as in original note (and the habit of addressing nobility obviously dies hard, it seems). Want to see it?  I found it here

PS: Your friendly Curator has been in the middle of a major move for a while now and that's not going to settle down quite yet.  Stay tuned, and I'll post as I can. 

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.