Saturday, April 9, 2016

Waiting for Mr. Sargent


It was recently made clear to me that, if I didn't post that photo, there would trouble. Someone recently caught up on this blog and felt I'd presented a few too many belly shots of himself this year. He was referring to this sort of thing:


It's considered "undignified" in some circles, where girth is undervalued and not recognized as a measure of character. Fools.

So I have done my duty and posted him in one of his "Mr. Sargent" poses. He practices one or more of these every day, in case Mr. John Singer Sargent magically turns up in our living room. When that happens, the sight of such a beautifully upholstered Norwegian aristocrat is supposed to inspire him to stop painting countless little watercolor landscapes and so on, and return to his true calling —portraits in oil paints... beginning with my cat, on my armchair. Portraits brought Sargent his fame and fortune, as Possum keeps saying. I keep reminding him that we also know that JSS came to detest his work over the years, since many of his rich subjects were vapid, unattractive, and/or rude. It felt like a prison sentence, his crime being his ability to make his subjects look brilliant and handsome, no matter what kinds of issues they might have in reality.

One could say that Sargent was the forerunner of the Photoshopped portrait but I'm not going to say it. That's Possum's point of view but he proudly points out that he doesn't need a speck of retouching. His portrait will be accurate. He also tells me that he'll be such witty, amusing company that Mr. Sargent will have a lovely time painting him. He's even hinted that we get a piano, since Mr. Sargent enjoyed playing during breaks from his easel. I said that Sargent also played the banjo, a more compact if less elegant instrument, so perhaps Possum could encourage him to bring it along.

A Sargent portrait is one of Possum's life goals* and he is tenacious. I have tried to explain, of course, that Mr. Sargent died a long time ago, so he is "isn't going out much," as well-bred people sometimes say to politely swerve around an unpleasant fact of life. One of Martha Stewart's neighbors said this to me about her when she was in prison. It's a handy phrase; I always keep it in mind.

Possum, being a cat, has no sense of history or timelines, pleasant or not. He doesn't care a whit about what happened when, or who's dead. It's not just Possum — none of this is important to any cat. Try it yourself and you'll find that they pay you no attention. Only NOW matters to them, and Possum wants to be immortalized in oil on canvas by Mr. Sargent now

You might wonder why immortality matters to a cat who has no sense of history. No one said cats were logical or consistent in their thinking anymore than humans are. It's simply how they are. Possum wants to enjoy his portrait now, and during whatever "nows" are to come.

You might not think it possible for anyone to upstage Possum, but Lion likes to try, and I think Mr. Sargent might indeed like to make his "paughtrait," too. He enjoyed the challenge of painting shades of black and white, after all. And that's almost all Lion is:


They continue to be admirably patient until Mr. S. arrives.


* Possum's other goal, of course, is to possess his very own bicycle rickshaw.

1 comment:

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