A Victorian Celebration
Cynthia Hart, John Grossman and Josephine Banks
Workman Publishing, 1991
From the dust jacket: “As with the Queen, so with the Empire: when Victoria revealed a love for cats, her people elevated their tabby mousers to a position unrivaled since ancient Egypt. Celebrating that great era of ailurophilia are Cynthia Hart and John Grossman, the arbiters of Victoriana whose books include A Victorian Scrapbook, Joy to the World and Forget-Me-Nots, as well as the best-selling Victoriana Calendar.
“Peeking out from lushly layered collages, here are endearing Victorian cats drawn from a museum-quality collection of antique paper ephemera and surrounded by the spirited tale of a feline renaissance that spread from Buckingham Palace to the parlors of Boston. Generously quoting poetry, nursery rhymes, Godey’s Lady’s Book, and popular authors such as Edward Lear and Rudyard Kipling, each precious page of Parlor Cats evokes in image and word an age that personified the cat as the epitome of domestic value.”
Unlike the previously reviewed book, The Photographed Cat, which covers part of the same time period (late 1800s through the first decade of the 1900s) this book is immensely more readable. Probably because it was written for the general public whereas The Photographed Cat is a more scholarly work. But even if you don’t read it, it’s still quite a book to look at. The cat collages are beautiful: a combination of paper, jewelry, flowers and much more.
Some of the Victorian items showcased include holiday cards, paper images (clip art), calling cards, postcards, jewelry, paintings, advertisements and porcelain figurines. The ads show cats and kittens hawking all kinds of products: shoe polish, cigarettes, snaps, thumbtacks, cigars and soap powder. This is the time of Beatrix Potter and Edward Lear’s The Owl and the Pussycat. If you’re looking for inspiration or if you collect cat books, this one is not to be missed.
Rating: 5 of 5 paws because it’s a gorgeous book of illustrated cats and inspired mom to go shopping for all things cat!!