I love Claude Monet, not as much as I love cats, but enough to have appreciated his paintings in more museum visits than I can count.
We all have images in our mind’s of Monet’s art, especially the water lilies, but I can remember when I saw one of his paintings up close for the first time.
It was a mural-sized lily pond occupying a wall at the old Museum of Modern Art in New York City. A whole section was then dedicated exclusively to Monet. Because another was given over to Henri Matisse, a visit there was like a stroll through heaven.
I can also remember the first time I met the cat my wife brought home to live with us. In the middle of an inspection tour, George peered over the top of our bed when he heard me step in. His look said, “Oh, you live here too?”
I wasn’t sure he was willing to share my wife.
But I also remember, vividly, the first time I saw Billy, the ultra sweet black cat making up the feline part of the art in the picture above. There he was, an abandoned waif, recently rescued by some wonderful people in Irondequoit, New York, in a cage waiting to be adopted.
He had big, soft eyes. And his tail was in his water dish.
Claude Monet Meets Billy the Cat
What could be more perfect than a black cat contrasted with the delicate, floral tones of Monet’s Garden in Giverny, France. Monet spent the final decades of his life there, not just painting but also designing the gardens. We owe most of Monet art we love to his years there.
Buffalo’s Albright-Knox Museum once hosted a fantastic show of just his last works, nothing more, showing his evolution toward expressionism.
Picking Billy for this challenge was right for two important reasons. First, he liked looking at art on our walls, especially Matisse. We don’t have any Monet prints, but he stared at Matisse. Did he appreciate it as art? Who knows? He definitely liked looking at it.
Another quality of Billy’s, unique among our cats, was a habit he had of looking at himself in our bathroom mirror. Up he’d jump from the toilet seat onto the sink and give himself a long look.
We joked that he was admiring his own beauty, but we have no way of knowing what inspired him. But self-admiration is as good an explanation as any other.
So, there Deborah put Billy, admiring his own reflection in a pond in Monet’s Garden. The whole scene is filled with beauty.
Who could blame Billy for appreciating his own unique contribution?