“In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.”
Robert Frost

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Cats in Hats

While researching on the net for information on some cute kitten prints I picked up a while back at an estate sale, I came across the blog post about something we are all familiar with.  We may not be familiar with the actual name for this phenomenon, so I thought I would share a bit about this not-so-new style of art and photography.




Cats Wearing Hats - available in my Etsy store CraveCute now!


It's called anthropomorphism, or in simpler terms, animals dressed or acting like people.  I found this fabulous blog post about the history of this strange but utterly cute art form. We owe much of this fun form of art to illustrator Louis Wain (1860-1939) and photographer Harry Frees (1879-1953).




Louis Wain



Apparently these type of pictures gained popularity when an American photographer named Harry Whittier Frees began using his own pets and the neighbors to created some silly and adorable pictures of cats and other animals which were used in postcards and children's books.




Harry W. Frees



The story goes that Frees was celebrating a birthday dinner with friends and there was a paper hat involved.  Each member of the dinner party took turns wearing the paper hat as it was passed around the table. When it got to the cat, the hat was placed on his head and he sat dutifully while Frees grabbed his camera and started taking pictures. The silly cat photo has been with us ever since!


One of my all time favorite books from my childhood came to mind when I started writing this post.  I had to go digging through my bookcase and I found it.  The book is called Captain Kitty, written by Godfrey Lynn and illustrated by Elizabeth Webbe.





Captain Kitty looking sharp in his nautical attire.









Captain Kitty with his adorable family!







Queen Kitty looks quite regal in her pearls!







As Captain Kitty said, "We've really had a lovely time.  Alas, it's time to go!"

See you next time! ~~ Diane



21 comments:

  1. Such an enchanting post...absolutely delightful kitties..love all of them..beautiful art and photos..it is pretty amazing the history behind things..fabulous as always..thanks for shining cat magic into my day!
    HUgs
    Victoria

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anthropomorphism goes right back to Aesop . . . and probably further. Where would we be without it? By the way, my cat HRH says "hi."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes it has gone on through time hasn't it? I think Beatrix Potter dressed up some of her animals too - or maybe she just saw them that way in her minds-eye and painted them!

      Delete
  3. Love this post! I have the Captain Kitty book too!
    I didn't realize that there was an actual name for this type of art.
    Have a great day!
    Erica :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. How fascinating! I didn't know the history behind anthropomorphism. "Three Little Kittens" was my favorite and the main reason was that I loved looking at the pictures of the kittens dressed in clothes. Enjoyed your post :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I remember my grandma reading me a book with cats dressed up in hats. I can't remember the name of it for the life of me now (haha old age?). I don't think it was the Captain one, but was similar. Thanks for bringing back the memory! :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Books like this take me back to my childhood, too. Anthropomorphism makes storytelling that much more interesting and fun.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great post! How sweet are those graphics in Captain Kitty.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Captain Kitty is adorable! Thanks for the history. :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Oh my gosh! These are all SO fabulous and adorable! Thank you for sharing them. :). I can't choose a favorite. I just can't!

    ReplyDelete
  10. How very, very cute! I guess there's a part in all of us that just naturally takes to "anthropomorphising" things, like when we feel our pets are looking at us with a distinctly "human" expression, or when we dress a teddy bear up and make him talk to the kids. I do believe that anthropomorphism dates back to pre-Christ, ancient times -- such as Aesop's Fables, for instance -- though Frees clearly hit the jackpot in terms of kitty cuteness :) P.S. Please excuse my irregular blog visits too -- it's hard being online with a baby strapped to my chest lol!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Frees really got it going here in the USA. I appreciate it so much that you came for a visit, I can't imagine how busy you are!

      Delete
  11. Completely adorable images - I love them all! :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Loved reading this history...I want to sent this to my neice to read :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Wow - Diane - wonderful post from one kitty lover to the next. Very interesting about cats being linked to mental illness (maybe that is what is wrong with me -lol). When I was small I dressed up my kitties in doll clothes and pushed them around in my baby buggy. Looking back now I have to say I must have had some very special cats to allow a child to do this...especially on a hot summer day! Anyhow - I certainly enjoyed reading about Wain and Frees. Love the music I get to hear when I visit too! Thank you for making me smile - Have a great week-end.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well... cats are not really linked to mental illness, it ran in Wains family. His sister suffered from the same disease. The post by Harrington says that in his artwork there were changes common to schizophrenic artists, such as the jagged edges and bright colors. It was nice that his benefactors placed him in a nicer Mental Hospital with lots of cats for him to paint until the end.

      Delete
  14. Diane, such a cute and informative post! Thank you! The vintage prints you got in your shop are so adorable! You find the best stuff!! Oh, you asked if I am going to paint the rocks outside? I don't think so. I like the way it is for now ;o) But, then you never know where my mind will take me next year! LOL! Hugs ;)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Love those kitty prints...what a great find! How nice that you still have a book from your childhood! My sister has what little books that were left from our childhood, sadly, my mom gave away most of that stuff when our family moved in the mid 70s.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I really enjoyed this post Diane, thanks for sharing all the info and your own lovely book.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for leaving a comment! I do read them all and will try to respond if I'm able. Please know that all comments are appreciated, I love to hear your thoughts on my posts! ~ Diane