“Let me guess. What is that stupid beagle doing, looking for a butterfly to chase, maybe?”
I came across this lovely portrait on Pinterest some time ago and pinned it to my Calico Cat board there. (Pinterest, by the way, is where I often find images of calicos, and my Calico Cat board is where I collect them for potential later use here!) I looked at this portrait whenever I added something to my board and was always touched by the expressiveness of this seemingly simple picture.
Finally I went back to the original source of the image. I found out that it is a well-known portrait by the Welsh artist Gwen John (1876 – 1939) who did many now highly-regarded portraits of women in France, her adopted home. Some of these portraits are in the collection of the Tate Museum in Britain. At the time, it was thought her portraits were old-fashioned since they used subtle color and were traditionally posed, figurative portraits. Her reputation seems to be growing because of the beauty of her compositions, their depth, and that subtlety of color.
I was taken aback that I’d never heard of her–though her brother, Augustus John, was also a famous painter and she was Auguste Rodin’s mistress for some years. [Do I need to point out that she has used the calico colors in her self-portrait below? Look at the dress and the cameo pin at her throat!]
I found more of her work in the Tate Museum collection. From their website here, I learned that Gwen loved cats and had a number of them. The cat in the portrait above was named Edgar Quinet–after the street near her place in Paris–though the cat was female. At some point Edgar disappeared, and Gwen was quite upset.
Here is another of her cat sketches
Gwen John’s cats are tortoiseshell rather than calico, but the color scheme is the same. By the way, if I understand correctly, the difference between tortoiseshell and calico cats is that the black, red, and white colors in a tortoiseshell cats are mixed together rather than being in large, discrete patches.
So here is a tortoiseshell kitty
while here is a calico . . . well, make that two!
Here’s a last pencil and watercolor portrait by Gwen John
I think Edgar–if indeed this is also she–looks almost calico here because of the broad brushstrokes, but if tortoiseshell is the preferred term in Europe (as I’ve read somewhere), then tortie she is.
Is the lady accordionist in this charming illustration by Naomi Wilkinson harping while dreaming of tigers? Are the tigers dancing the polka? Flying? Burning?
Check it out!
Yes, you read that right.
It’s actually the title of a painting of a calico cat with monarch butterly wings that’s available as notecards.
My friend Ada found it after reading my previous post about monarch butterflies belonging in the calico color palette. She got curious and googled “calico butterfly.” She found this image and wrote me, “This cinches it, there is nothing you can’t find on the Internet.”
Since neither she nor I could get the calico cat-butterfly fairy image to upload, you’ll have to click on the link to Zazzle.com and see the mash-up for yourself! (The image is from a painting by Pamela Fleming.)
This is a link to Fleming’s online store, MagicalTails, where she has more “Fantasy Cat and Nature Paintings” — a concept which sends my mind into kind of a sickening tailspin of cuteness overload, so you’ve been warned!
Meanwhile, back in my world of catty calicos, I’m pretty sure this cat saying,
“Hey, are you calling me a fairy, lady?!!”
I found this image on the “Things Following Angry Cats” website with the caption, “Look, Ed, I’m done talking to you. It’s over.”
Good one! (http://www.thingsfollowingangrycats.com/?p=288)