Many cat lovers claim that if our beloved felines had developed the opposable thumb they would have been the dominant species. If evolution had taken place in their favor instead of ours, history of art would surely have seen as masterpieces of the same characters but with different features.
Susan Herbert, born in ’45, considered one of the most famous “cat artists” in the world, gives life to this feline utopia.
Early in her career, to pay for living, working at the box office of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Become famous, she will remember this period of her life as “full of part-time horrific jobs,” during which she used to take advantage of every free moment to paint until, in 1973, she was admitted at the Ruskin School Of Drawing & Fine Art, Oxford, where she studied for some time. She later worked as a sketcher at English National Opera, one of the leading opera companies in London. Here, portraying the artists on the scene, she was inspired to replace feline features instead of human figures; end like to specialize in limited edition prints of “scenic animalized characters.”
However, her first job does not depict cats but their antagonists, lively mice often illustrated on storyboards depicting scenes from Shakespearian plays and then see the light the Opera Cats, the Shakespeare Cats, and cats immortalized in Theatre and Ballet. In the 90s, after fifteen years of hard work and limited success, Thames and Hudson published The Cats Gallery of Arts who immediately becomes a publishing phenomenon. Admiring the The Cats History of Western Art we realize that there is no intention of parody in the representation and declination of our hairy muse but rather a respectful, faithful and tender interpretation of the works of Leonardo, Botticelli, Vermeer, Caravaggio, Rubens, Titian, van Eyck, David, Goya, van Gogh, Monet and many other great artists of all ages.
Note the taste for detail and finesse as a catlover: the tails of cats are (almost) always in plain view: the Mona Lisa, for example, elegantly holds it in her hand… Herbert also explored cinema, creating the adorable Movie Cats, a gallery of the most famous still image of the movie classics translated into playful feline versions, from Gone with the Wind to the Godfather, from Singing in the Rain to Doctor Zhivago, from classic black and white films like Casablanca until most recent as Gladiator. The Theatre Royal of Bath houses a permanent exhibition of her works: to visit in the company of our feline patron.