About Me

My photo
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 !

Friday, December 02, 2016

rabbits run

courtesy of the Getty's Open Image Program
Brittany, France, mid 1400's: a Livre de la Chasse (Book of the Chase) is created by an unknown master of illumination.  Ah, bunnies are known for providing sport, in their small way, and so we get this lively illustration of a warren of rabbits.  Let's look closer.

They hop here and there, they find their burrows, and if the lower right hand corner is any indication, they also find romance.

Rabbits (Getty Museum)
Rabbits; Unknown; Brittany, France; about 1430 - 1440; Tempera colors, gold paint, silver paint, and gold leaf on parchment

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

wordless vintage wednesday

thanks ampersand. what a find.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

a huge collection of contemporary cat art - and all he did was ask

Clive Barker sent a drawing of a demon-eared cat, with wide eyes and full lips - not scary, but playful.
Jonathan Richman sent a watercolor of a sweet grey kitty chilling on a street corner.
Roy DeForest sent a cat portrait collage.
Tony Menodoza sent a photo of Ernie.
...And R. Crumb - this is when I squealed out loud - wrote a letter with a detailed drawing of his cat Bernie.
What lucky duck got this and more?  Patrick Eddington, a high school art teacher in Utah.  He'd write any creative person who struck his fancy, writers and visual artists alike, and ask if they'd share a cat-themed work with him.  He called it the "Cat Project."
It worked.
Mr. Eddington passed away earlier this year, and his collection went up for auction.  Part of the proceeds are to benefit Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, as he always meant it to do.  I know you'll enjoy the randomness of what was on offer, and you must see the Crumb letter.

Monday, November 28, 2016


the metropolitan museum of art.The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1951 
Here's a poodle sporting what I can only imagine is the fashionable dog hairdo of the mid-1600's.  This engraving was created by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-77) after a work done by the Dutch painter Adriaen Matham.  (Matham was a major figure in Dutch-Moroccan relations; I throw that in for the random pleasure of the finding.)  Over at poodlehistory.org there is a page chock full of details on poodle hair throughout history - have a look.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

more like "dog and children"

By Paul Klee (1879-1940) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
In "Kinder und Hund" (Children and Dog, watercolor and pen dated 1920) Paul Klee captures a group of little beings by personality.  There's the openness and innocence of the round-faced baby at front and center, and to the right two more querulous siblings looking askance at whatever this is Klee's doing.  At left, is that an older sister?  She seems on the cusp of womanhood, her lips full and eyes wide.  
Then dead center top, equal to his humans and full of alert presence:

You can't look away from that face; he's the heart of the group, and you keep circling round and coming back to him.  Klee's always good for that.  To Klee, the household animals were always complete citizens and family, and I love him for it.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

"one thanksgiving day out west"

thanks vintageimages.com
That's the title of a 1908 poem by Emma Dunning Banks, meant to be performed as a reading, about an old man's memories of a dramatic trip home for the holidays.  In this poem, "Grandpa" (actually Uncle Dan, not yet fifty) reminisces on the cabin thirty miles from any town where his adoptive family settles.  Comes the fall, and the little girl of the house gets lonely:
Well, the fall came on right early, and it seemed to me that Nan
Pined a little; when I asked her if ’twas so she said: ‘Now, Dan,
Don’t tell mamma, ’cause she’d worry, but I wish I had a pet—
P’rhaps you’ll think I’m always wishing for something I cannot get—
But, indeed, I think if only I’d a dog or little cat,
When I can’t get girls to play with, I would be content with that.”
How to find a house pet in the woods?  Dan, all of 14 or so, makes up an errand into town, and acquires a mother dog with pups, kittens thrown in for free.  
Finally I found and bought them, shepherd dog with puppies six,
And the man threw in some kittens, full of cunning little tricks.
When my queer load was all ready it was very near to night,
But I hoped I and my cargo would reach home before daylight.
I have to warn you, this IS a poem from 1908, when we still run into some casual cruelties in children's literature.  There are wolves howling and snarling on the trip home, and a bitter storm.  Not all of the animals get there.  (I'm sorry.  Blame the times.)  Dan reaches his cabin just as the horses sink dead from overexertion, and yet...
“I’d one kitten and a puppy in my arms, as through the door
In I staggered, and fell fainting, senseless, on the old oak floor.
Master said his little Nannie had been praying all the day:
‘Bring Dan back to eat Thanksgiving, and, Lord, keep the wolves away.’
One Thanksgiving, eight years later, Nancy, here, became my wife.
That wee kitten and that puppy, rolling round in playful strife,
Are descendants of the ones I brought from town for pets for Nan,
When the wolves so nearly made an end of uncle ‘grandpa’ Dan.”
I guess that's a happy ending?  (sighs)

Please travel safely, Museum friends, and a truly happy Thanksgiving to all the beings in your families!

 -- Banks, E. Dunning. (1908). One Thanksgiving Day out west. New York: E.S. Werner.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

ten thousand years of turtle

 Utagawa Hiroshige (Ando) (Japanese, 1797-1858). Mannen Bridge, Fukagawa (Fukagawa Mannenbashi), No. 56 from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, 11th month of 1857. Woodblock print, Sheet: 14 1/4 x 9 5/16 in. (36.2 x 23.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Anna Ferris, 30.1478.56
(Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 30.1478.56_PS1.jpg)
Have a look, little turtle: there's Mt. Fuji from up here.  Soon someone may come buy you and set you free in the canal down there, so that they can earn good karma.
This unexpected piece by Utagawa Hiroshige shows a piece of the railing of the Mannen (Ten Thousand Years) Bridge in the Fukagawa District, where turtles were sold as pets.  The long-lived creatures are longevity symbols in Chinese and Japanese lore, and well-traveled bridges were ideal places for vendors to sell them (and other water creatures).  I think this is a hopeful, lightly comic piece, opening one up to all the random good things life can bring, such as a turtle's brief hoist for a better view.