Absolutely Fabulous Felines

Why is the lion roaring?

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!


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…