American Fancy Portrait of a Cat

Northeast, likely Pennsylvania, ca. 1820-1840. Watercolor, ink, and pencil on paper. Labeled “Kitty”. Bold and colorful whimsical, imaginative representation reflecting a period known as “American Fancy”, a time of creative and fanciful use of colors and forms that followed the Revolutionary War. The stylized profile can not be well described with words, one’s eyes and mind may interpret it. From the book AMERICAN FANCY, EXUBERANCE IN THE ARTS, 1790-1840, by Sumpter Priddy: “Fancy came to signify almost any activity or object that delighted the human spirit through artistic expression—it occupied people’s minds, pervaded their homes, and shaped their perspectives on the world. Just about anything that pleased the senses—from music and dance to horticulture—fell within Fancy. Household furnishings held an important role in conveying this vibrant character and disseminating the concept of Fancy through a new approach to ornament.” Foxing and a bit of staining, abrasions, and pleating to the ground paper that resulted when the watercolor dried yielding a “radiating structure” to the art. Frame size about 10 ¼ inches x 8 ¼. Provenance: Private Northeast collection.

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