Purrfect Matches

By the Archives

August 1, 2017

Registrar Susan Cary and archivist Rihoko Ueno find real life counterparts to some of the cats featured in our current exhibition.

 

Like the artists in our current exhibition, Before Internet Cats: Feline Finds from the Archives of American Art, many of our Archives colleagues are cat lovers.  We thought it would be amusing to compare some of their cats to those in the exhibition, and here are the results!

Marzipan

Drawing from Esther Baldwin Williams sketchbook
Sketchbook, circa 1900. Esther Baldwin Williams and Esther Williams papers, 1887-1984. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Photograph of Marziapn
Sarah Mundy’s cat, Marzipan.

Marzipan, the feline companion of archivist Sarah Mundy, could have easily have been one of Esther Baldwin Williams’ models for her sketches of cats. While Siamese and black cats seem to be a favorite among artists, the tortoiseshell patterns of calicos are just as appealing!

 

Georgia

Photograph of cat with bunny
Anne Arnold’s cat, Stubbs, and one of her bunnies in Maine, 197- / Anne Arnold, photographer. Anne Arnold papers, circa 1925-2015. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Photograph of Georgia
Emily Shapiro’s cat, Georgia.

Artist Anne Arnold and editor of the Archives of American Art Journal Emily Shapiro understand the playful side of cats. While Stubbs enjoys his bunny companion, Emily’s cat Georgia takes a moment away from playtime with her toy mouse for a “cat” nap.

 

Cleocatra

Illustrated letter to David Soyer
Moses Soyer letter to David Soyer, 1940. Moses Soyer papers, circa 1905-1974. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Photograph of Cleocatra
Michelle Herman’s cat, Cleocatra.

Moses Soyer captured the beautiful markings on his cat, Bright Eyes, in this illustrated letter to his son, David. Digital experience manager Michelle Herman’s cat, Cleocatra, could be a direct descendant of Bright Eyes.

 

Lola

Holiday card sent to Joseph Cornell
Carolee Schneemann christmas card to Joseph Cornell, 196-?. Joseph Cornell papers, 1804-1986, bulk 1939-1972. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Photograph of Lola
Susan Cary’s cat, Lola.

Both artist Carolee Schneeman’s cat and registrar Susan Cary’s cat, Lola, keep a watchful eye out for movements outside during the quiet winter months. Perhaps they are anticipating spring?

 

Chairman Meow

Photograph of Pooh
Jay DeFeo’s cat, Pooh, in her studio, between 1960 and 1965 / Jay DeFeo, photographer. Jay DeFeo papers, circa 1940s-1970s. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Photograph of Chairman Meow
Michelle Herman’s cat, Chairman Meow.

Jay DeFeo’s cat, Pooh, perches in front of a “Be Calm” sign in her studio, but Chairman Meow, who also belongs to Michelle Herman, has mastered the art of tranquility and needs no reminding.

 

Lincoln

Cat by Mine Okubo
Miné Okubo painting of a black cat, 1972. Roy Leeper and Gaylord Hall collection of Miné Okubo papers, circa 1940-2001. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Photograph of Lincoln
Sarah Mitrani’s cat, Lincoln.

Archives digital imaging technician Sarah Mitrani’s feline, Lincoln, knows how to mug for the camera. Though he wasn’t the model for Miné Okubo’s painting, he would certainly have been an inspiration for the artist had they been contemporaries. Doppelgängers much?

 

Captain Henry McCuddlebugs

Sketch of a cat by Emily Barto
A Little Book of Little Cats and Commando, 1948 April. Emily N. Barto sketchbook, 1948 April. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Photograph of Captain Henry McCuddlebugs
Barbara Aiken’s cat, Captain Henry McCuddlebugs.

Emily Barto’s sketch of a kitten named “Kitzy” proves that cats have always known how to pose just so. Archivist Barbara Aikens’s cat Captain Henry McCuddlebugs is curled up and content, secure in the knowledge that, years later, cats rule the internet—as they knew they always would.

 

 

The exhibition Before Internet Cats: Feline Finds from the Archives of American Art is on view through October 29, 2017 in the Lawrence A. Fleischman Gallery at the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture (8th and F Streets NW, Washington, DC). Admission is free.

 

Susan Cary is the registrar and collections manager for the Archives and a self-proclaimed feline fanatic.

Rihoko Ueno is an archivist and co-curator of the exhibition Before Internet Cats: Feline Finds from the Archives of American Art.

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