A Charming Early 20thC Oil on Canvas Portrait of a Maine Coon Tabby Cat Dated to 1916; From the Attics at Rokeby Park, County Durham


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Object Description

The charming early twentieth century oil on canvas, presented unframed, depicting a maine coone tabby cat, shown on its haunches with a prominent ruff, and looking suitably pleased with itself, the whole on a brown and sea green background, and initialled ATP and dated to 1916.

Object History

The Attics at Rokeby Park, County Durham.

Object Literature

The Maine Coon is a large and sociable cat, hence its nickname, “the gentle giant.” It is characterised by a prominent ruff along its chest, robust bone structure, triangular body shape, an uneven two layered coat with longer guard hairs with a silky satin under layer undercoat, and a long, bushy tail. The breed’s colors vary widely, with only lilac and chocolate disallowed for pedigree. Reputed for its intelligence and playful, gentle personality, the Maine Coon is often cited as having “dog-like” characteristics. No records of the Maine Coon’s exact origins exist so several competing hypotheses have been suggested. The breed was popular in cat shows in the late 19th century, but its existence became threatened when long-haired breeds from overseas were introduced in the early 20th century, when this picture was painted. The Maine Coon has since made a comeback and is now one of the more popular cat breeds in the world.

To the reverse of the picture the original label reads; “Army & Navy Co-operative Society Ltd, 105 Victoria Street, Westminster… No.5 Dept Fine Art Section”. Army & Navy Stores was a department store group in the United Kingdom, which originated as a co-operative society for military officers in the nineteenth century. The society became a limited company in the 1930s and purchased a number of independent stores during the 1950s and 1960s. In 1976 the Army and Navy Stores group was acquired by House of Fraser. The Army & Navy Co-operative Society Ltd was incorporated on 15 September 1871, being formed a group of army and navy officers. The aim of the co-operative was to supply goods to its members at the lowest remunerative rates, However the advent of the First World War saw trade suffer badly, but this was supplanted in part by a contract from the War Office. After the war, the society was hit by strikes by its staff, but it continued to develop its Victoria Street site and by 1922 a new frontage had been added

The year of 1916 was the third year of the First World War, with Douglas Haig being promoted to field Marshal and the notorious battle of the Somme.

This picture was removed from the attics at Rokeby Park which was built by its original owner Sir Thomas Robinson between 1725 and 1730, and is a variant of the Palladian formula of the villa with wings. The house was sold to J S Morritt in 1769, who made further enhancements and extensions to the building before it was inherited by his son in 1791. J B S Morritt, the son, owned the house for over fifty years and filled it with an eclectic array of notable artworks including Diego Velasquez’s ‘Toilet of Venus’, also later called the “Rokeby Venus”, which he bought in 1809. It is the only known surviving female nude by Velazquez. The painting was sold to the National Gallery in 1906, although soon after was badly damaged by the suffragette Mary Richardson in 1914. It was fully restored and returned to public display in the gallery, where it still hangs. The art collection includes works by Charles Jervas, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini, Francis Cotes and Benjamin West. A recently restored painting, now on display in the dining room, is the only known contemporary painting of the Coronation of Louis XIV.

A more contented cat could not ye find.

Object Condition

The painting is in very original condition with no damages or signs of restoration. He remains un-cleaned and there is a newly added hanging loop for display.

Object Details

Dealer Opening Times

By appointment only.

Dealer Contact

+44 (0)1767 640995
+44 (0)7729 213013

Dealer Location

The Onion Barn
Shoe Cottage
15 High Street
MK44 3NL

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