He’s announcing to the world that his good friend Puss in Boots is the subject of a fabulous new Cotsen gallery publication.
The front cover incorporating an illustration by the famous Victorian animal painter, Harrison Weir.
It features twelve black-and-white illustrations of the most famous cat in children’s literature from Cotsen’s nineteenth-century books. The pictures are accompanied by the complete Perrault fairy tale in Andrew Lang’s translation. As it’s a rags-to-riches story, gold bands run along the upper and lower edges of every page. The elegant design is by Mark Argetsinger and the beautiful printing by Puritan-Capital. Stop by the Cotsen gallery for a free copy, especially if you like cats, shoes, and happy endings.
The rear cover featuring Puss as a courtier in Louis XIV’s court by Edmond Morin.
Another word about the head of the lion at the head of the post… It’s a detail from a wonderfully dynamic drawing by American artist James Daugherty, which the Friends of James Daugherty Foundation just presented to Cotsen. The notation in the bottom right hand corner indicates that it was intended as the illustration for page in 39 in Andy and the Lion (1938), Daugherty’s retelling of Androcles and the Lion that was named the Caldecott Honor Book for 1939. At some point in the book’s production,it was cut. It’s hard to see why, but presumably there were good artistic reasons at the time.
Cotsen is thrilled to have this wildly happy lion join the marvelous preparatory drawing for the book’s endpapers in the Daugherty archive. We’re very grateful to the Foundation for its continued generosity!
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.