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Portrait of a Siamese

My wife has been looking after a cousin’s Siamese cat. I find Siamese particularly elegant (it must be their long slim look and black velvet opera gloves), and, as I had one in the house to model for me, I felt it worth drawing. Unfortunately, Pushkin (the cat) does not keep still for long unless he is asleep and then he usually wraps himself up into a ball which is a fairly uninspiring pose.  He will sit still for a short while and then it is a fairly simple matter to sketch him, from the neck down at least, but he will bob his head about whenever he sees or smells anything interesting and his ears tend to move around like demented radar antennae. Drawing his head required quick work but after a few tries the task became easier. To paint him, I outlined him in pencil from an initial sketch and then used watercolours.

I could not find any Old Master portraits of Siamese cats when I was looking for ideas and inspiration. Hergé, however does have one in his Tintin books – which is great comic book fun but not high art. Snowy, the dog has a few unfortunate run-ins with the cat who, like Pushkin, turns out to be a twenty-minute egg …

…but they become firm friends after a while.

Below is a study of them both by Hergé which was recently and so very comfortably sold at Sotheby’s that I wondered whether I should do better to be in the comic business.

Hergé Georges Rémi dit (1907-1983) Milou et les chats, fin des années 1940


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