Sunday, February 19, 2012

Cats in Art: The Music Lesson (Fragonard)

From my continuing weekly Sunday series of cats in art. I am using some ideas from the coffee table book, The Cat in Art, by Stefano Zuffi.


Image credit Wikipaintings, The Music LessonJean-Honore Fragonard, 1769, oil on canvas, 43" x 47", held by Musee du Louvre, Paris, France.

Zuffi's comment:

Is this a real music lesson, or is it just the usual pretext for depicting one of those boudoir scenes that made Fragonard, with Boucher, the master of Rococo amorous dalliance?  Certainly, the music teacher seems more interested in the charms of the sweet young girl demurely intent on her musical exercise. 

The witness to this encounter is, naturally, the placid white cat that has taken its place in the chair holding a lute: its flattened ears, as if it wanted to close them, indicate the animal's irritation at the sounds produced by the musical instrument.


In my vast cat experience, flattened ears are a harbinger of something worse to come.  I don't blame the cat: absent speech, flattened ears are its only way of communicating the universal message: "Knock that s**t off, now!"

Fragonard certainly gets it right here.  The cat wants to be a buddy (after all, it's still on the chair), but the human activity is just too much to bear.  Oh, the price of domesticity!

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