I haven't posted anything on here for a long time. Fingers crossed* I'm planning to get back to blogging this year. I've been thinking about this post for a while and finally decided to actually do it. Yay!
I've been collecting vintage Valentine's for a while but my favorite ones to collect are cooking and baking themed ones for my kitchen, where most of my Valentine decorations are displayed. I've noticed there seemed to be a theme in some of my valentines throughout the decades: cooks and cats in the kitchen. I studied history and art history in college and so my way of looking at it was that someone started a theme and the following generations continued to use those themes, whether they did so consciously or not, and I wanted to explore that theme going back through the history of art.
Below are some of my vintage valentines with cooks and cats.
Below are some examples of depictions of cats in kitchens throughout history over the last 500 years. They often symbolize gluttony and chaos in medieval artworks. Later they embody mischief, snatching away fish when the kitchen hands aren't looking. Cats are also depicted as content or aloof. But anyone who knows cats knows they are capable of embodying all of the above within the space of an hour. Historically cats were kept near grain stores and kitchens to keep out vermin but I think the depiction of cats in the kitchen in the last 150 years has moved from the practical to 20th century domestic bliss. Cats are part of the family, one of the children. Which is how I feel they are depicted in the valentines above, kittens and children are so sweet together. You're not meant to associate them with Judas at the Last Supper. Egads! Symbolism is a powerful thing, luckily for us these associations have changed dramatically over the last 500 years. Enjoy!
The Last Supper; 1482 The Sistine Chapel Cosimo Rosselli
Judas is sometimes depicted on the opposite side of the table from Jesus and the disciples with a cat at his feet. This cat is fighting a dog over a bone, and winning. Cats were also depicted in portraits of Adam and Eve, symbolizing temptation.
Rich Kitchen; 16th Century
Book of Hours; 1575 Da Costa
That is a content cat, keeping warm by the kitchen fire.
Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus: 1610-1620 Peter Cornelisz Van Rijck
Spot the cat? Mischief Much?
Dutch painters often used cats to embody domestic bliss
1838, Henri Leys
The Cook and the Cat; 1860s, Theodore Augustine Ribot
Dutch girls series; Late 1800s, Edmond Louyot
Cats are more frequently depicted as domesticated companions moving into the 20th century.
Girl with a Kitten; Late 1800s; Emily Farmer
Well I hope you've enjoyed this post. Gearing up for a Valentiney weekend. Have a great one!