Painting of the Day: Judith Leyster’s “A Boy and Girl with a Cat and an Eel,” 1635
|A Boy and Girl with a Cat and Eel|
Judith Leyster, 1635
National Gallery, Britain
Dutch painter Judith Leyster was one of the few recognized Seventeenth Century female painters of her time. She often used children in her compositions to create allegorical scenes to demonstrate the foolishness of humanity. Drawing on the Dutch saying, “He who plays with cats gets scratched,” Leyster has painted a rather gruesome scene of two children. The boy has baited a cat with a wriggling eel. The child has captured the cat who is further being taunted by a wicked little girl who’s pulling his tail. The cat’s extended claws tell us how this little situation will end. Meant to be a warning against foolish and destructive behavior, this painting is simultaneously charming and disturbing. It can be viewed amongst other works by Leyster at the National Gallery, Britain.