ARTS & CULTURE

A Giant Trove Of Cat Art Is Headed To Auction On National Cat Day

Marianne C. Gourary amassed hundreds of cat artworks spanning four centuries. And we love her for it.

10/29/2015 10:40 am ET
Bloomsbury

This is a story about Marianne C. Gourary, a German transplant to New York who, during her lifetime, was a bigger cat art fan than you.

It might be hard to believe, but it's true. Gourary, who died last year at the age of 93, spent decades amassing a trove of cat art that spans four centuries and hundreds of artifacts. Around 244 of these artworks are headed to auction this Thursday at Bloomsbury in London, bringing an incredibly impressive array of feline-inspired etchings, book illustrations and paintings to a broader audience.

Described in an obituary in The New York Times as acerbic, astute and a "force of nature," Gourary was a fan of classical music, opera and fine art, filling the Manhattan home she shared with her second husband, Paul Gourary, with a large collection of art and books. Amongst this collection was her cat-themed treasures -- largely book illustrations that span humor, beauty and the purely bizarre.

"She had a strong affection for cats and especially appreciated their company during the later years of her life," the obituary lovingly reads.

"Cats: The Collection of the late Marianne C. Gourary" includes a 19th-century version of Walter Crane’s "Puss in Boots," illustrations from cat-inspired writings by the likes of T.S. Eliot and Charles Baudelaire, 40 black-and-white plates from Balthus' "Mitsou" tale, a Meiji Period satirical novel titled I Am a Cat, a print by Camille Pissarro, and works by the "Raphael of Cats" Gottfried Mind. For the intellectual yet cat-obsessed amidst us, it's a veritable heaven.

Thanks to the power of digital archives, we have a preview of Gourary's cat-art collection -- equipped with captions including, "An essential part of any cat library with some of the finest lithographs of cats ever produced." And what better day to celebrate the beauty that is cat art than National Cat Day? Behold:

  • Bloomsbury
    228. Pissarro (Orovida Camille, 1893-1968) Siame s e c at and kitten s drypoint, on cream laid paper, signed and dated 1946 in pencil lower right, titled lower left, 190 x 235 mm., an excellent impression; together with ‘La Fillette au Chat’ by Berthe Mori s o t (1840-1895), etching, on light brown laid paper, 150 x 115 mm., after cancellation, [circa 1889]; and with ‘Boy and Cat’ by A rthur W. Hein tzelman (1890-1965), etching and drypoint, on cream laid paper, signed in pencil lower left, from an edition of 70, 200 x 160 mm., [circa 1935], all unframed, (3). £400 - £600
  • Bloomsbury
    40. Fini (Leonor) La Grande Parade des Chats, number 64 of 230 copies on Arches signed by the artist, from an edition limited to 285, 60 colour lithograph plates by Fini of dancing and acrobatic cats, each signed by the artist in pencil, original patterned-paper boards, paper label on spine, slip-case, 4to, Paris, Agori, 1973. £1,000 - £1,500

    *** Scarce.
  • Bloomsbury
    189. Lane (Theodore, 1800-1828) The man of the woods & the cat-o’mountain etching with hand-colouring, on wove paper, 300 x 210 mm., light spotting and browning, minor surface dirt, [BM Satires 14131], published by George Humphrey, 1821; together with the etching and stipple engraving ‘Le traité de paix avec Rome’, by an Anonyous French hand, 260 x 310 mm., minor spotting and browning, [circa 1797]; and with ‘Old tabbies attending a favorite cat’s funeral’ by C. Goodnight (fl. 1782-1794), etching, on laid paper, 250 x 355 mm., central vertical fold, minor spotting, browning, and surface dirt, [BM Satires 8558], published by Laurie & Whittle, 1794, all unframed, (3). £200 - £300
  • Bloomsbury
    222. Akiyama (Iwao) Two cats, woodblock print in black, red and grey, on flecked paper, 320 x 260mm., signed and dated in pencil below, numbered from an edition of 100, unframed, 1984; with 7 other 20th century Japanese woodblock prints of cats, including a pair of small hashira-e, or pillar prints, by Koho, a later issue of a cat and mouse, by Shoson, signed Hoson, Siamese cats asleep in a chair, by Hiromi Johnson, a cat up a tree with birds and a dog below, by Tokuriki Tomikichiro, and 2 others (8) £400 - £600
  • Bloomsbury
    185. Mind (Gottfried, 1768-1814), Attributed to. Cat on a stool, playing with three kittens watercolour and bodycolour, over graphite, 230 x 190 mm., minor surface dirt and finger-soiling; together with an etching after the same subject, by Franz Hegi (1774-1850), after Mind, with hand-colouring, 120 x 150 mm., and with five further prints after Mind by various hands, etchings and lithographs, some with hand-colouring, various sizes, largest 150 x 200 mm., occasional spotting and surface dirt, all unframed, (7). £300 - £500
  • Bloomsbury
    198. Guerard (Henri-Charles, 1846-1897) Chat noir sur un journal etching and drypoint, with plate tone, on thick laid paper with full margins, signed in the plate upper right, 285 x 410 mm., rough edges, minor finger-soiling to extremities, unframed, [Beraldi 260; Bertin 299 III]. £400 - £600
  • Bloomsbury
    203. Steinlen (Théophile Alexandre, 1859-1923) L’été Chat sur une balustrade lithograph, signed centre left, on thick wove paper, from the edition of 250, 480 x 590 mm., light browning and surface dirt, published by E. Sagot, printed by R. Engelmann, Paris, 1909 £1,000 - £1,500

    Provenance: David Tunick (inscribed on reverse)
  • Bloomsbury
    136. [Soseki (Natsume)], “Kinnosuke Natsume”. I Am a Cat. Chapter I. Chapter II, translated by K.Ando, early English edition, frontispiece, pencil inscriptions on front free endpaper, original pictorial boards printed in black and red, a little rubbed and stained at edges, spine worn and chipped (as usual), Tokyo, K.Ogura, 1906 § Hagiwara (Sakutaro) Cat Town, translated by George Saito, signed and inscribed by the translator to Prof. Alexander Laing on title with some text in Japanese, woodcut plates by Sumio Kawakami, original cloth-backed pictorial boards, glacine wrapper, Tokyo, Jujiya Press, 1948; and c.20 others, Japanese, most in English, 8vo & 4to (c.25) £200 - £300

    *** The first is a satirical novel, which parodies Japanese society during the Meiji Period, through the eyes of a domestic cat.
  • Bloomsbury
    89. Mind (Gottfried) Oeuvre de Geofroi Mind de Berne recueilli de différens Cabinets particuliers, engraved title with stippled vignette of the artist drawing with his cat alongside, 15 hand-coloured aquatint plates by Rauch after Mind, all featuring cats, each mounted as issued on grey paper with ink borders and manuscript captions below, one or two with very light spotting (mostly to mounts and tissue guards), a few with marginal creasing at left hand side, staining to some mounts, contemporary red morocco, by the royal binder René Simier, gilt rule border, inner gilt dentelles, g.e., a little rubbed, corners slightly worn, [c.l818]; another copy, text only, with 4 hand-coloured aquatints loosely inserted, including 2 plates not included in the first copy, all featuring cats, tipped to new grey paper mounts with ink borders, and with 4 lithographed plates from ‘X Blätter Katzengruppen’ also loosely inserted, 2 being reverse images, a little spotted and soiled, together in contemporary green glazed boards, gilt, gilt-stamped blue lozenge-shaped label ‘Jeux de’Enfants de Mind’ on upper cover, large engraved pictorial label of Lamy mounted on front pastedown, rubbed, rebacked, [c.1818], together in modern cloth drop-front box, oblong folio, Berne, J.P.Lamy (2) £4,000 - £6,000

    *** Magnificent plates by the master of drawing cats. Gottfried Mind (1768-1814) was a Swiss artist, crippled at birth and largely self-taught. He drew mostly animals and children at play but it is for his charming drawings of cats that he is primarily known. The French painter Elisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun called him “the Raphael of Cats”. Other plates in this series depict Bernese children playing, some with animals, but the number varies from copy to copy.
  • Bloomsbury
    77. [Lear (Edward)] The Owl and the Pussy Cat and other Nonsense Songs, additional pictorial title and 11 plates, all mounted photographic prints reproducing printed text with surrounding illustrations by Lord Ralph Kerr, one plate bound out of order, faint ink signature at head of title, some light spotting, original pictorial green cloth, gilt, g.e., corners worn, rebacked preserving original spine, oblong folio, Cundall and Co., 1872; Nonsense Drolleries: The Owl & the Pussy-Cat - The Duck & the Kangaroo, illustrations by William Foster, original cloth-backed pictorial glazed boards, 1889; Nonsense Songs and Stories, ninth edition, illustrations by the author, original pictorial cloth, spine faded, [c.1894], all rubbed; and c.25 other versions of ‘The Owl & the Pussy Cat’, v.s. (c.30) £300 - £500

    *** The first is scarce; the book is thought to have been published in a small edition at the artist’s expense. The other nonsense songs are ‘The Duck and the Kangaroo’ and ‘How the Beasts got into the Ark’. This seems to be their second appearance in print after appearing in Nonsense Songs, Stories, Botany and Alphabets the previous year
  • Bloomsbury
    172. Hollar (Wenceslaus, 1607-1677) Head of a Cat (middle size) etching, 175 x 125 mm. (visible), light surface dirt, minor browning, [Pennington 2109], 1646 £1,000 - £1,500

    Provenance: E. P. Goldschmidt Ltd, London; Jacques Vellekoop, London (according to inscription on reverse)
  • Bloomsbury
    121. English Editions.- Crane (Walter) Puss in Boots, “Walter Crane’s Toy Books” series, colour illustrations, original pictorial wrappers, edge wear, Routledge, n.d. [c.1875] § Puss in Boots, “Aunt Louisa’s London Toy Books” series, 6 chromolithographed plates, original pictorial wrappers, rubbed, Warne, n.d. [c.1870] § Puss in Boots, 4 chromolithographed illustrations, plain vignettes, original shaped card pictorial covers, splitting at spine, Tuck, n.d. [c.1900]; and 10 other UK editions of Puss in Boots, v.s. (13) £200 - £300
  • Bloomsbury
    76. [Klossowski de Rola (Balthasar)], “Balthus”. Mitsou: Quarante Images par Baltusz, Preface de Rainer Maria Rilke, first edition, 40 plates after drawings by Balthus, signed and inscribed by the artist’s mother Baladine Klossowska to her friends Adolf and Olga Bondy on front free endpaper, some plates with slight crease to inner margin, original limp printed boards, browned, joints worn and frayed, spine slightly defective at foot, with folder of cuttings, letters etc. relating to the work, together in modern cloth drop-front box, 4to, Zurich & Leipzig, 1921. £1,500 - £2,000

    *** Rare; the artist’s first book illustrations. The drawings were executed by Balthus at the age of twelve, relating the story of a boy who finds a stray cat which later disappears. Balthasar Klossowski de Rola (1908-2001), nicknamed “Baltusz” which later became “Balthus”, was the son of an art historian and a painter who were part of an artistic elite in Paris. He was encouraged to paint and draw by Pierre Bonnard and the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, the latter being his mother’s lover at the time and who wrote the introduction to the work. Cats appeared in his work throughout his career.
  • Bloomsbury
    48. Foujita (Tsuguharu).- Joseph (Michael) A Book of Cats, being Twenty Drawings by Foujita, number 412 of 500 copies on Arches signed by the artist on colophon and with an additional suite of plates (one signed), 20 plates by Foujita, all signed in the plate, original deep pink cloth titled in silver, uncut, spine and head of lower board very slightly faded, additional suite of plates on Japon with plate of ‘Messalina’ signed in pencil, the signed plate a little smaller than the others, some very slightly creased at lower right corner, loose as issued in later red cloth portfolio, together in red cloth drop-front box, [Necker 1063], 4to, New York, Covici Friede, 1930. £30,000 - £40,000

    *** One of the most desirable cat books. Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita (1886-1968) was a Tokyo-born painter and printmaker who applied Japanese ink techniques to western style art. He settled in Paris in 1913 and became friends with many artists including Modigliani, Picasso and Matisse. He is particularly renowned for his paintings of cats and beautiful women.
  • Bloomsbury
    44. [Fleury-Husson (Jules)], “Champfleury”. L e s Chats , first edi tion, plates and illustrations after Delacroix, Manet, Mind and others, occasional foxing, cat bookplate of Mary Alice Ercolini, modern cloth, original green pictorial wrappers bound in (defective and repaired), J.Rothschild, 1869 § Adeline (Jules) Le Chat d’après les Japonais, inscribed by the au thor on half-title (recipient’s name erased), plates by the author including 2 etchings, ex-library copy with stamps, contemporary cloth-backed boards, worn, original pictorial wrappers bound in (chipped at edges), Rouen, 1893 § Bédollierre (E. de) Histoire de la Mère Michel et de son Chat, second edition, wood-engraved illustrations by Lorentz, foxed, original cloth, gilt, rubbed, 1853 § France (Anatole) Jocaste et le Chat Maigre, first edi tion, foxed, later half morocco, spine gilt, t.e.g., others uncut, original yellow printed wrappers bound in (rubbed), 1879 § Gautier (Théophile) Menagerie Intime, original decorative wrappers, glacine wrapper, 1869 § Bergerat (Émile) Théophile Gautier, etched frontispiece of Gautier’s cats in his library by Félix Bracquemond, contemporary morocco-backed boards, spine gilt, 1879, all but the second Paris; and 8 others, French, mostly 19th century, 8vo (14) £300 - £400
  • Bloomsbury
    21. Cat's Party (The), by Tom Mouser, Esq., 8 hand-coloured illustrations, original pictorial wrappers, worn, Read & Co., n.d. [1865] § Robinson Crusoe, The Clever Cats, &c., 16 chromolithographed plates, some damage to text ff., original cloth with mounted colour illustration, worn at corners and spine ends, Nelson, n.d. [c.1868] § Cats Quadrille (The), 4 colour printed plates, original gilt-pictorial wrappers, Nelson, n.d. [c.1870] § Aunt Jenny’s Series. Pussies’ Party, hand-coloured illustrations, original pictorial wrappers, an attractive copy, New York, McLoughlin, n.d. [1871] § Cats and Kittens ABC, 4 chromolithographed plates, plain illustrations, original colour pictorial wrappers, Tuck, n.d. [c.1900]; and 9 others, 19th century children’s books with cats, v.s. (14) £300 - £400
  • Bloomsbury
    32. Whittington and his Cat, folding panorama, c.115 x 975mm., 10 hand-coloured engraved plates, light soiling but colours bright, folding into original cloth-backed pictorial glazed boards, rubbed, spine worn and slightly defective, 12mo, Rock, Brothers and Payne, [c.1850]. £300 - £400

    *** Rare. WorldCat lists only 2 copies, in America.
  • Bloomsbury
    13. Bonsall (Elisabeth).- Humphreys (Mabel) The Book of the Cat, first American edition, printed in orange and black on rectos only, colour frontispiece and 5 plates, plain chapter-headings, all after Elisabeth Bonsall, original cloth-backed pictorial boards, dust-jacket a little frayed, otherwise a very good copy, [Necker 995a], folio, New York, 1903. £200 - £300

    *** “Excellent cat delineation; a fine book.” Necker
  • Bloomsbury
    61. Hasegawa (T., publisher) The Rat’s Plaint, translated by Achibald Little, 1892 § Hearn (Lafcadio) The Boy Who Drew Cats, [c.1900] § Schippeitaro, translated by Mrs. T.H.James, Japanese Fairy Tale Series No. 17, [c.1900], all printed on crepe paper, colour woodblock illustrations, original pictorial crepe paper wrappers tied with silk, slightly soiled, the first with small hole to upper outer corner, the last a little rubbed, Tokyo, T.Hasegawa (3) £200 - £300
  • Bloomsbury
    63. Hoffmann (E.T.A.) Lebensansichten des Katers Murr, number 111 of 200 copies signed by the artist and with signed handcoloured etching loosely inserted, illustrations by Michael Mathias Prechtl, original cloth blind-stamped with cat’s pawprints on upper cover, dust-jacket, Frankfurt, 1997; and 3 other versions of the same, small folio & 8vo (4) £200 - £300
  • Bloomsbury
    177. Jacob Kleinschmidt (Johann, ?-1772) Katzen Choral Gesang engraving, on laid paper, 222 x 264 mm., even browning, trimmed just within platemark, light rubbing upper left corner, [Le Blanc 3]; together with Cornelis Bloemaert the Younger’s (1603- 1680) Katze mit einer Maus, engraving on laid paper, after Hendrick Bloemaert, 145 x 105 mm., trimmed within platemark, with loss to lettering at lower edge, otherwise a well inked impression, [Holl. 320], both unframed, (2). £300 - £500

 

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