The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

March 17, 2014

March 17, 1686

File:Jean-Baptiste Oudry - Two Cats.jpg

This painting by Jean-Baptiste Oudry (March 17, 1686 to April 30, 1755) is dated to 1725. It is titled "Two Cats" and sometimes "Two Cats And a Dead Partridge".
Is this the first painted Fat Cat, or cat with a heart shaped spot on it's breast. You may think I know the answers to these questions, but I don't. I do know where I found the information below, on Oudry. According to the Getty Museum:

Louis XV, king of France, often called Jean-Baptiste Oudry to Versailles to paint the royal hounds--in the king's presence. "Monsieur Oudry had acquired such a habit of conversing with high-ranking persons and of working in their presence that he painted as calmly at the court as he would in his own studio," marveled a contemporary. Though his father was a painter and art dealer, Oudry's first serious training came from portrait painter Nicolas de Largillière. By about 1720, the young man was concentrating on animals, hunts, and landscapes. He became a member of the Académie de Peinture et de Sculpture in 1719 and a professor there in 1743.

From 1726 Oudry had great success designing tapestries. In 1734 he was named director of the Beauvais tapestry manufactory, which he re-established by bringing in artists like François Boucher. Two years later, he became director of the Gobelins manufactory. Supervising all tapestry production gave Oudry considerable influence on French decorative arts. He also had a large studio and was literally overwhelmed by commissions. His clients included Czar Peter the Great of Russia and the queen of Sweden. Oudry's work was marked by attention to detail combined with freedom of execution. A master of chiaroscuro, he maintained a lifelong interest in light and reflections.

Oudry left us this dictum:  the good still-life painter is one who can compose a work entirely of white objects and manage to give each item its due. His expertise in white is visible in our painting above. 

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