Standing in line at the thrift shop with an armload of new-found treasures, something in my peripheral vision wanted a closer look. I turned to look at two cat figurines—how sweet!—and immediately began to determine if I should purchase them to add them to my lifelong collection of cat figurines. I have no rhyme or reason for what I purchase, it really depends on my whim at that moment, but I can say that I usually do purchase what I find.
These two, however, were more than sweet and rather nicely done, they also looked vaguely familiar. I turned them around and—aha!—they were “the Steinlen cats” (more on that below)! As salt and pepper shakers! There was no doubt, I would purchase them. They now reside in my collection case and if I have special guests some day I may use them for salt and pepper.
But they also reminded me of a photo I’d taken along that theme…
Mewsette and Giuseppe have a front row position to watch the great outdoors outside the big window otherwise known as Cat TV.
Their positions reminded me of a famous poster design, “A La Bodiniére”, by Théophile Steinlein, the painter, illustrator and Art Nouveau printmaker who helped set the standard for poster design and has been a great inspiration to me as both a graphic designer and a feline artist. The poster was advertising “exposition de l’oeuvre dessine et peint“, or an exhibit of his drawings and paintings at La Bodiniere, a theater and exhibit hall.
Steinlein was one of the most famous feline artists of any era, sketching and painting his cats all the time and incorporating their images into his designs. Easily recognizable among his designs are “Tournee du Chat Noir” and no doubt many people have seen “Clinique Chéron” hanging in their veterinarian’s office. See more of Steinlen’s creations in this post on Animalarium.
To say he is and long has been an inspiration to me is a massive understatement. One of my favorite things to sit and study is a beat-up old copy of the Dover Art Library’s Steinlein Cats, showing me pages from his everyday sketchbooks of cats in charcoal, ink, watercolor, studies of paw and ears and noses, a momcat nursing her kittens, a little cartoon of a cat who spilled the milk; what a joy for me to share the inspirations of another artist so intimately. While my finished paintings have always been organized, this book encouraged me to organize my sketches as well and put me on the path to keeping sketchbooks instead of sketching on whatever was handy.
There is no mark anywhere on the set to see who made them or when, but I don’t know of any company that makes fine art salt and pepper shakers! Below are a few more photos of the figurines, along with Mr. Sunshine’s reaction to them…
Read other posts featuring Kitty Things, feline-themed artifacts I’ve found here and there.
Browse some rescued cats and kittens—or browse here or visit PittsburghCAT!
All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life
Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters
Tuesday: Rescue Stories
Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork
Thursday: New Merchandise
Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy
Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats
And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!