Wednesday, May 11, 2022

562. Cats Depicted in Daphnis and Chloe

In the wood-engravings for Daphnis and Chloe (1893), Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon depicted a great many animals, some of which are mentioned in the story but others not. As the shepherd, Daphnis is of course depicted with a dog, sheep, goats and other livestock - we also see a cow, horses, pigeons and a dead dolphin.

Animals are also present in the domestic scenes, including dogs, chickens, a peacock and cats.

Charles Ricketts, wood-engraving in Daphnis and Chloe (1893, page 11)

The first cat walks into the book on page 11. In a "split-screen" illustration, Daphnis sits on the floor on the left; in the right compartment Chloe sits upright in her bedroom. Both 'are tormented by an amorous melancholy'. They are in love with each other. As the cat appears in the open doorway (it is dark outside) and places its paws on the wooden floor, it looks straight at the viewer.

A cat
in Daphnis and Chloe
(1893, page 11)

A second cat appears on page 57 in the home of Dryas where the animal apparently feels right at ease. 

Charles Ricketts, wood-engraving in Daphnis and Chloe (1893, page 57)

It is grooming itself, licking its paw.

A cat
in Daphnis and Chloe
(1893, page 57)

When Ricketts illustrates dramatic moments in a story, he often selects a moment after the climax, when the tension seems to have died down, but is in fact still in full force. And he accentuates the ordinariness of the drama through domestic elements like a pet.