A cat surrounded by elegant furniture, drapes, mirrors, and wall hangings: Henriette Ronner-Knip's cat paintings made her one of the most successful female Dutch painters of the 19th century.
Brabant's famous Knip family of painters produced eight artists over three generations. All eight developed their own specialism. Henriëtte Ronner-Knip had a particular talent for animals. Or rather: pets. Cats, to be precise.
In a cat-egory of her own
In those days, pets - and cats in particular - were hugely popular, especially in England. The cat was a feature of the interiors of the wealthy bourgeoisie and nobility, both in real life and on canvas. And that trend made its way to the Netherlands. With her talent, Ronner-Knip was able to take full advantage of the cat craze, and her work became world-famous. In fact, the artist was partly responsible for cat paintings becoming a specific genre in painting - a pioneering role played by very few female artists before her.
Cat in a cabinet
How do you paint a cat? In Ronner-Knip's garden in Brussels, there was a 'foyer des artistes': a sort of shack housing the cats she had borrowed to paint. If she wanted to paint an animal, she got hold of one and put it in a glass case, so she could study it at leisure without the animal scarpering.
Mother cat with four kittens
|Oil on panel
|32 x 44 cm
|Stichting Van Rees-Klatte