subhead2.png

Fauxmaster Old Master Cats


No cat lover can spend much time on the innerwebs without seeing an image of a cat's head p-shopped onto a figure in a classical painting. I've even done a few myself:

It's not work I'll want to be remembered for, but it was a fun exercise.


When Susan Herbert's work was described to me, I wrongly thought she was just another fauxmaster Old Masters photoshopper. When I finally saw her work, I couldn't rest until I saw every single item in her portfolio.


I haven't yet seen everything, but it's only because I've spent a lot of time looking at each of Herbert's reimaginings side-by-side with the original work. Interestingly, the originals were (I believe) all done in oil, but Herbert is a watercolorist.


I'm amazed that, decades after my last art history classes, I could remember the names of most of the classic works to which she paid homage.




In this van Gogh self-portrait, Herbert purrfectly captured what van Gogh would look like as a cat. There's something about the jawline and his resolute stare.

(If you love Vincent like I love Vincent, don't miss the movies "Loving Vincent" and "At Eternity's Gate." The former is a spectacular artistic achievement in animated art. In the latter, Willem DaFoe nails the character. Both are must-sees.)


Back to Herbert...she also depicted cats in iconic movie scenes:



I see these, and I think of how much FUN it must have been to have conceived and executed each one.


Herbert was a British artist born in Hampton-in-Arden in 1945. She began her working life in the box offices of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, the London Coliseum and the Theatre Royal, Bath.


These positions enabled her to hold foyer exhibitions, which included theatrical portraits and a series of images using yummy mice to tell the story of Wagner’s Ring (yes, srsly). This work led to the development of anthropomorphic art that places animals in Old Master, Shakespearean and operatic settings.


By the close of the 1970s, she had become a freelance artist, with work permanently displayed at the Theatre Royal and Kings Circus Gallery in Bath. Susan reached an even wider audience through the books she published: The Cats Gallery of Art (1990); The Diary of a Victorian Cat, with a text by Stanley Baron (1991); Impressionist Cats (1992); The Cats History of Western Art, with commentaries by Genevieve McCahen, (1994); Medieval Cats (1995); Shakespeare Cats (1996); Opera Cats (1997); Pre-Raphaelite Cats (1999), The Cats Gallery of Western Art (2002, a compilation of 1990 & 1994 volumes); Movie Cats (2006), Cats Galore: A Compendium of Cultured Cats (2015). Here's a link to her available books.