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Portrait de Jeune Femme Tenant un Chat

Portrait de Jeune Femme Tenant un Chat

by Michael

The translation is a portrait of a young woman holding a cat. I guess most visitors would deduce that!

Bacchiacca Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This is an oil painting by Francesco Bacchiacca created in 1525, which makes it an early painting showing a domestic cat portrayed in a way with which we are familiar.

It could have been painted in 2012. Although the painting style is “mannerist” the painting is quite natural I think.

The mannerist painting style is what the word indicates: mannered, artificial, overelaborate as far as I can deduce although the academics haven’t decided yet.

The woman is a little overweight and her eyes droop in a rather peculiar manner. Other than that all seems normal.

The cat is well painted. Sometimes paintings of this era show cats that are a little anthropomorphized (having human qualities). Tabby cats always have an “M” mark on the forehead and in this instance Francesco Bacchiacca has simply painted lines. I think this is a little careless, dare I say it.

The cat is a brown mackerel tabby of normal proportions. The cat is comfortable and relaxed (as indicated by the crossed over forelimbs) despite the slightly unnatural position. Although the lady is holding the cat very delicately.

The lady seems to have a nice gentle disposition and probably liked cats a lot.

Francesco Bacchiacca became an artist at the court of Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici in 1540, well before he painted this lady and cat, so she is not necessarily a lady in high society it seems to me.

Although as she is very well dressed with pearls etc. she was probably well off to use modern language. She lived in Florence, Italy which is where Bacchiacca lived and worked all his life (1494–1557).

The cats seems to have been a genuine domestic cat, living in the home and going out occasionally in the usual way.

I say this because even today in places such as Morocco the domestic cat would seem to be more semi-domesticated, with less of a connection between the person and the cat. That state of affairs seems also to be the case in parts of Asia.


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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