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Fleurs et chats by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Fleurs et chats by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

by Michael

Fleurs et chats by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

This is another oil painting by Renoir, painted in 1881, when Renoir was 40 years of age. I have just written about his painting Julie Manet with a cat.

This painting was made 6 years earlier. The question for me is what type of cats these are. We know that they were random bred cats.

This is a detail:

The cat on the left looking at what is probably some string or decorative material to play with appears on first glance to be a brown/grey tabby cat. The tabby pattern appears to be blotched or classic tabby as opposed to striped or spotted.

However he has painted the brown more orange than pure brown and there is some white. Technically this cat is either a blotched tabby and white or a tortoiseshell and white. I favour the former.

The cat on the right hand side is also a tabby cat as far as I can see. There is the slightest vestige of a tabby cat "M" marking in the forehead; the classic evidence of a tabby cat.

Both have nice typical domestic cat faces, quite rounded. These are in complete contrast to the modern highly selectively breed slender modern Siamese and Oriental Shorthairs for example.

You can see how accurate Renoir was. The cat on the left is gripping the shiny table top with his right forepaw. You can see the way the toes are in a gripping position. The claws of the cat on the right are visible. Declawing wasn't invented at the time.

I say accurate, but it seems to me that he has changed the scaling of the cats in relation to the bowl and flowers. Look how small the cats are or how massive the bowl is. Perhaps the cats were in fact kittens. They have a kitten-like appearance. The painting should be called "Fleurs et chatons".


Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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