When Cats Discover Matisse Goldfish
The most popular chapter in Famous Artists’ Cats: The Book is Henri Matisse Goldfish (with Cats). Hardly a day goes by when one or more pinners don’t click the heart button and repin it on one their own boards.
Inspired by Matisse’s Interior with Goldfish (Les poissons rouges), it’s intense blue is accented only a little by the goldfish, which are, as you can see, actually red.
Matisse loved painting red goldfish. He did it often. Sometimes, they were the main focus of the picture. In others, like Interior with Goldfish, they accent a more general setting. With Matisse, it’s a special place of honor to accent blue.
By the way, even if you don’t know the least bit of French, you might have noticed that Les poissons rouges doesn’t appear to have any “interior” in its original title. The full, English translation title is a concession that distinguishes this 1914 painting from a 1912 painting with, otherwise, exactly the same title. Matisse liked painting red goldfish so much, he ran out of titles for them.
For the record, some articles add the word “bowl” to this painting, but that seems unnecessary. This isn’t a nature painting. Where else would the fish hang out?
The interior is from Matisse’s quarters in Paris. He had a view in the heart of the city for which the rent must now exceed human comprehension. That’s the Seine flowing a lesser blue in the Parisian background. You can also see drays a t work crossing a bridge.
When Deborah opened the window to let Billy and Sam into Matisse’s studio, she added the enticement of extra fish.
(There is nothing on record to tell us Matisse’s reaction at finding two extra adult red goldfish in his bowl.)
True to the nature of black cats, Billy studies the goldfish bowl intensely. Sam, unable to control himself with the same rigor, climbs onto nearby furniture for a closer look.
Sam’s magnified face, a giant furry explosion, seems not to disturb the fish at all. They seem to be aware that glass and water are impregnable barriers, even for cats.