Friday, April 13, 2012

Black Cats for Friday the 13th

Poor black kitties! Cats are already a little mysterious, and then when they're the color of night, they're associated with magic, witches, Halloween...and unluckiness. Our family has fostered lots of black kittens over the years, and they've all been sweethearts. Here are some lucky black cats for Friday the 13th!

No way you've never seen this.

On posters, notebooks, magnets...this image is ubiquitous, but for good reason. This 1896 art nouveau poster by Theophile Alexandre Steinlein advertising Le Chat Noir cabaret is striking. Looking at it, you can image you, too, are in the late-19th Century Montmartre of bohemian hangouts like the Moulin Rouge or Au Lapin Agile.

It's there, I promise. Look to the right of the naked lady. Farther...

And here's another iconic image from 19th Century Paris involving a black cat. Based on Titian's Venus of Urbino, Manet turned the "Imma paint a naked lady but it's classical or whatever so it's okay" genre on its head with 1863 masterpiece Olympia. This naked lady's a prostitute, she's not coyly inviting the male gaze, and Titian's loyal little lap dog has been replaced with a spirited cat. Critics were horrified.

Behemoth lives on in Kiev!

Behemoth is a fan favorite of Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita (previously discussed here), frequently gracing covers of various editions of the novel. A demon in the form of a large black cat, Behemoth is a charming and wisecracking member of Woland's (Satan) retinue.

"Wednesday Runs" in Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton

Now how can you be scared of a black kitty like this with her excited little face and pink tongue? If this cat crossed my path, I'd be scooping it up for kisses immediately! Kate Beaton is known for her hilarious history comics, but her knack for expressive characters works for kitties as well as Napoleon. It's always a treat when Wednesday shows up!

Illustration by Aubrey Beardsley

Of course, if you'd like something scary on this famed day, there's Edgar Allen Poe's famous 1843 short story "The Black Cat" (full text here). There's a black cat and horror, but the monster's no feline.

Image Info:
Chat Noir poster: Wikimedia Commons
Manet's Olympia: Wikimedia Commons
Behemoth statue: Wikimedia Commons
Hark! A Vagrant Comic: Kate Beaton
Beardsley illustration: Wikimedia Commons

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