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 !

Monday, February 20, 2017

a cymbal-ic cat

Book of Hours, Cat beating cymbal,
from a marginal cycle of images of the funeral of Renard the Fox,
Walters Manuscript W.102, fol. 78v detail
This whiskery fellow chimes his way along a margin in a Book of Hours held by the Walters Art Museum.  On adjoining pages, other creatures also march along in character, and all together they become a fanciful funeral procession for Reynard the Fox.  The book, dating from late 13th-century England, is neither complete nor bound correctly, and as a result it's not known which prosperous soul got to enjoy this jolly embellishment to their devotions.
Here's the entire page if you'd like to spot our cymbalist above.
Here's one of his fellows, a dog with a set of bagpipes made out of...is that what I think it is?
Here's the whole book page by page if you're curious and want to find more!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

a timeless rabbit

Gift of Charles Lang Freer F1904.203a-b (noncommercial use permitted, the Freer and Sackler Galleries)
I couldn't resist sharing this clever creature.  Any guesses when it was made?  I thought at first glance it was a contemporary craft item, but no - it's from the mid-17th century.  This streamlined, ear-enhanced bun is an incense holder bearing the namestamp of the master of Japanese Kyoto ware, Nonomura Ninsei (active 1646-1677).  Kyoto ware are high-fired ceramics and porcelain created in that city, glazed in enamels and made to be used domestically.  Ninsei, unlike domestic ceramic artists before him, used thick monochrome enamel glaze on stoneware, and signed his work.  Of particular note in his tea bowls is the neat skill of their feet, the round projections on which they sit; not something you see in this incense holder, but I am still impressed by those dainty rabbit paws.
Learn more about Nonomura Ninsei here.

Friday, February 17, 2017

neko face

Gift of Charles Lang Freer (noncommercial use permitted, the Freer and Sackler Galleries)

Here we have the incomparable Hokusai (Japan, 1760-1849) with a little sketch he dashed off in ink on paper around 1810.  This is a work that would fall under the style of ukiyo-e, that is, focusing on the actors, entertainers and courtesans of the cities.  Every so often, one finds a cat (neko in Japanese) co-starring, as with our smug buddy below:

Head over to this site for a thorough look online at Hokusai's life and work.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

be our valentine

thanks vintageimages.org  (PD)
Oh behave!
Happy Valentine's Day, Museum friends!

Monday, February 13, 2017

the one to watch: kedi

thanks pixabay. not from the documentary
Of course I'm going to find a way to watch "Kedi"!
I read that Istanbul's street cats number in the hundreds of thousands (and here I thought Rome's population was lavish).  How can you live and work in a city full of independent, proud creatures and not have them affect you day?  You can't.  Director Ceyda Torun knows this first hand and makes it clear in "Kedi," her documentary on the ferals of Istanbul.
Kedi's website is here.  (Complete with trailer.)
The RogerEbert.com review of Kedi is here.

Friday, February 10, 2017

fable: the eagle, the cat, and the sow

british library (PD)
In this fable, found in a collection dated 1818, a cat tells some very wicked lies.  
An Eagle had built her nest upon the top branches  of an old oak; a Wild Cat inhabited a hole in the middle; and in the hollow part at the bottom was a Sow with a whole litter of Pigs. A happy neighbourhood, and might long have continued so, had it not been for  the wicked insinuations of the designing Cat: for first of all, up she crept to the Eagle, and, Good neighbour, says she, we shall all be undone; that filthy Sow yonder does nothing but lie rooting at the foot of the tree, and, as I suspect, intends to grub it up, that she may the more easily come at our young ones. For my part, I will take care of my own concerns, you may do as you please; but I will watch her motions, though I stay at home this month for it. When she had said this, which could not fail of putting the Eagle into a great fright, down she went, and made a visit to the Sow at the bottom: putting on a sorrowful face, I hope, says she, you do not intend to go abroad to-day: why not? says the Sow: nay, replies the other, you may do as you please, but I overheard the Eagle tell her young ones, that she would treat them with a Pig the first time she saw you go out; and I am not sure but she may take up with a Kitten in the mean time; so good morrow to you, you will excuse me, I must go and take care of the little folks at home. Away she went accordingly, and by contriving to steal out softly at nights for her prey, and to stand watching and peeping all day at her hole, as under great concern, she made such an impression upon the Eagle and the Sow, that neither of them dared to venture abroad, for fear of the other; the consequence of which was, that they in a little time were starved, and their young ones fell a prey to the treacherous Cat and her Kittens.

This shews us the ill consequence of giving ear to a gossiping double-tongued neighbour. Many sociable well-disposed families have been blown up into a perpetual discord, by one of these wicked go-betweens; so that whoever would avoid the imputation of being a bad neighbour, should guard both against receiving ill impressions by hearsay, and uttering his opinions of others, to those busy bodies, who, to gratify a malignant disposition, or gain some selfish end of their own, can magnify a gnat to the size of a camel, or swell a mole-hill to a mountain.

--from Bewick, T., Aesop., . (1818). The fables of Aesop, and others. Newcastle: Printed by E. Walker for T. Bewick and son. Sold by them, Longman and Co. London, and all booksellers. 39-40

Thursday, February 09, 2017

deux chats

Bibliothèque nationale de France, département Estampes et photographie, FOL-EF-449 (PD)
Here's the French engraver Prosper-Alphonse Isaac (1858-1924) with an elegant pair of creatures.   After years mastering and producing dry point, aquatint and other Western methods, Isaac turned to Japanese wood-engraving technique.  These cats are from that period, dating roughly 1908-1912.  Japanese woodprints used waterbased inks, which had fresh, vivid ranges of color; you can see that here even in the simple lines.
For the fun of it, I found this 1898 text on Japanese wood engravings. It's full of illustrations, even if you don't want to slog through the text.  Have a flip through it.