A New Gallery Brochure about Puss in Boots Coming This Fall

The pamphlet Cinderella in the Cotsen Children’s Library has been out of print for some years and there have been requests for a new one on another classic fairy tale.  But which one?  Sleeping Beauty?  Too passive.   Blue Beard?  Too violent.  Ditto Little Thumb.   Riquet with the Tuft?  Too obscure.   Donkey  Skin? Too kinky.   That left the cleverest cat of all, Puss in Boots.

The selection of pictures will not come from the ones on display in the current exhibition, “Most Masterful Cat.”  Here are a few illustrations of Puss that may be new to you.   They may or may make the final cut.

Here he is trudging down the road to the King’s palace, with the gift of a nice fat rabbit slung over his shoulder.  The illustrator is Edmond Morin, whose book about the hard life dolls lead was the subject of  another post.

One of my favorite illustrations of Puss shows a rather chubby, furry tom cat hunting for  quail, which were also to be presented to the king.  This beautifully observed picture is by the great German 19th-century artist Otto Speckter.  Wearing boots must disturb the cat’s concentration while hunting.  It is one of two quite different versions of the same scene, both of which I love.There are many wonderful pictures of Puss after his elevation for service to the crown.   This one by Harrison Weir  imagines him as an elegant but swaggering courtier.  No wonder the ladies can’t keep their eyes off of him.  Obviously being waited upon by them is much more amusing than catching mice around the palace.Until the pamphlet goes out on the shelves of the bookcase in the gallery entrance, there’s some consolation for cat lovers  here.


Puss in Boots and Friends on the Cat Walk

Charles Perrault, Contes: Edition du Tricentenaire. Head piece by Joseph Hecht (Paris: Rene Hilsum & Cie, 1928) Cotsen 60396.

What cat in children’s literature approaches the style of Dore’s Puss in Boots?  The turn-out of the extravagantly booted paws, the plumed hat, the tail floating in the air like a dancer’s arm all contribute to the air of effortless grace.

Charles Perrault, Contes. Illustrated by Gustav Dore (Paris: J. Hetzel, 1862) Cotsen 32595.

The equally fine ensemble by Harrison Weir for Puss is set off by a confident feline bearing.  No wonder the ladies find him irresistible.

“The History of Puss in Boots. With twenty-two pictures by Harrison Weir” in The Child’s Wonder Picture Book (London: Ward, Lock and Co., not after 1885). Cotsen 95124.

The doe has eyes only for the noble lion, splendid in lace and velvet.  The pig in the admiral’s costume knows that he hasn’t got a chance.

Eduard Ille, “Der Maskenball der Thiere” in Munchener Bilderbucher nr. 36 (Munchen: Braun & Schneider, ca. 1878) From the collection of Kurt Szafranski. Cotsen 44329.

Tabbies are as alluring as the toms with the right hat and accessories.

My Grandmother’s Cat, or Puss in Boots (London: W. Darton jun., 1811) Cotsen 20048.

“Tittums and Fido” in The Poll-Parrot Picture Book … with twenty-four pages of illustrations printed in colour by Kronheim (London: George Routledge and Sons, ca. 1878) Cotsen 153481.

Of course, cats don’t need clothes to bring out their natural elegance (or ferocity), but illustrators love to dress them up anyway.

Nora Chesson, With Louis Wain in Fairyland. Illustrated by Louis Wain (London, Paris, New York: Raphael Tuck & Sons, not after 1905) Cotsen 28339.

Good grooming is serious business for cats.

“The Cats’ Tea-Party,” illustrated by Harrison Weir in The Poll-Parrot Picture Book … with twenty-four pages of illustrations, printed in colours by Kronheim (London: George Routledge and Sons, ca. 1878) Cotsen 153481.

Or ought to be…

Cover design by Harry B. Neilson for The Jolly Fisher (John F. Shaw & Co. Ltd, not after 1913) Cotsen in process 6163286.

For an awesome gallery of tigers, visit our virtual exhibition…  If you think dogs rule, we’ve got a post for you…