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.

December 18, 2015

December 18, 1939

Remember when cats were cats and men were Swedes? Here is Bruno Liljefors (May 14, 1860 to December 18, 1939) and his portrayal of a cat. He did lots of wildlife pictures and that is the real category below.

This is from 1883.

There is a nice essay, and examples of his work at this site. There we learn:

In the late 19th century, wildlife painting emerged as a separate genre from natural history illustration, and Liljefors was one of pioneers of this new kind of art. He liked to paint animal predators....In 1893, the Swedish explorer and taxidermist Gustaf Kolthoff opened, in Stockholm, one of the world’s first natural history museums that displayed stuffed animals in a reconstructed natural habitat, backed by life-like panoramas. Called the Biologiska Museet (Biological Museum), this pioneering institution is still open to the public..... and much of the attractiveness of the displays derives from the background paintings. These were all painted by Liljefors....

I liked this site also, maybe because it backed up my own assessment above:

Bruno Liljefors ...was a lifelong hunter, which raises the dilemma of his possibly being torn between shooting his prey or sketching it. Judging from the mounted animals in his studio .... it would appear he may have done both. But humans are not the only ones who hunt. Many of Liljefors paintings feature foxes, birds, cats, and other animals hunting their prey as well .... His work is dramatic in that sense. Even now, his paintings are among the very few depicting animals of prey doing what they do best. Yet there is not the slightest hint of romanticized death or exaggerated violence. He painted in a somewhat impressionist mode but with a very nature-oriented sensibility. Their beauty in our eyes derives from the animals themselves, not from their struggle for survival.

His own struggle for survival  may have been involved when "around 1900, ... he left his wife and took up with her younger sister." He painted people too, as in this social winter scene:

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