Salle 41, niveau 5
Following Paradis de Montcrif who published Les Chats in 1727, the art critic Champfleury devoted a book to small felines in 1868-69, Les Chats: histoire, mœurs, anecdotes. The book, illustrated with engraved drawings by Delacroix, Manet, Mérimée and Hokusai, was a great success. At the end of the century, the black cat gave its name and silhouette to the famous cabaret founded by Rodolphe Salis at the foot of Montmartre in 1881. It was no doubt named in tribute to the short story The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe and to its translator Charles Baudelaire, a champion of cats. It was also a reference to Paris, where stray and meowing felines abounded, especially at night. Intermediary between nature and culture, cats brings together opposites: wild and domestic, independent and cuddly, predator and gentle, they have real, symbolic and aesthetic qualities that capture the attention of illustrators. With their predilection for sleep, they offer the artist an immobile and accessible model. Their curved, aesthetic and linear beauty inspires the artistic gesture.