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.

February 23, 2016

February 23, 1633

Charles Patin, (February 23, 1633 to October 10, 1693) was a French physician and numismatist. He was a learned and cultured man. This picture shows him with his family.

We see his daughters: on the left (Charlotte Catherine Patin) and on the right Gabrielle Charlotte Patin.

Gabrielle has a book on her lap, and this alludes to the importance their father placed on learning, on women learning. Charlotte is holding an orb, and their father is explicating. Gabrielle is "remembered for her scholarship, including a Latin publication on Phoenician numismatics in 1683." Madame Patin may be entertaining premonitions. Charlotte was an art historian, before there was such a thing. Here is a picture from her book Pitture scelte e dichiarate da Carla Caterina Patina, parigina accademica, which discusses 40 different pieces of art. This one represents the nativity, which version has a lion in the corner.

This article gives some context to this lovely story:

The origins of art history as a discipline are often linked to Johann Joachim Winckelmann in the 18th century, but even in the 17th century there were writers and scholars publishing critical examinations of art. Although these figures were on the whole men, there was one woman among them whose name often goes overlooked: French writer Charlotte Catherine Patin. ..
.[Her]1691 Pitture scelte e dichiarate da Carla Caterina Patina, parigina accademica, [is] considered among the earliest examples of art historical scholarship.

....Patin’s father — physician Charles Patin — encouraged women’s scholarship, especially for his daughters. Patin learned Latin, Italian, and German in addition to her native French, and was well-versed in history and current affairs which contextualize the art in her book. ...

Pitture scelte features 40 different artworks from French and Italian collections, including pieces by Tintoretto, Paolo Veronese, Jacopo Bassano, and Titian, each with a critical essay that considers iconography and provenance. Patin was able to view many of these pieces in person, as her family lived in Padua after her father fled France to avoid a galley sentence for importing banned books...
[Charlotte Patin's] essay[s] consider... questions of patronage, iconography, composition, and meaning, and the combination of careful observation, scholarship, and critical appreciation demonstrates Patin’s skills as an art historian.

Notice that Charlotte is the only one in the family portrait looking at her father. The article concludes:

Pitture scelte] was the only work Patin published, as after the death of her father, she entered a convent in 1697 in Padua, where she remained until her death in 1744. 

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