Porcelain is the perfect material to carve out the fine, characteristic traits of both man and animal. The interplay of light and shadow, the proportions and the purity of form, even with smaller sculptures like this lying cat, are best brought out in unpainted figures in particular. The cat is part of a group of animal figurines, the production of which only began in the masters’ workshops of the manufactory after 1928. Its archetype was the famous bronze statuettes of the French animal sculptor, Pierre Jules Mênes.
based on Pierre Jules Mêne
Hand painted, Vers. I light colored coat
Those who have had the opportunity to peer over the shoulder of an artist while they paint a figure at the manufactory will know just how much responsibility and professionalism lies within this traditional craft. Like a professional make-up artist, eyes are rouged, lips accentuated and characteristic features of the body emphasised with fine contours and shading. It requires a lot of intuition and a good eye for the essential. This is the only way a sleeping cat such as this one can be brought to life with just a few strokes of the brush.
based on Pierre Jules Mêne
Hand painted, Vers. II black coat
It is no coincidence that the bronze sculptures of the French artist, Pierre Jules Mênes, can be found throughout the museums of the world. His animal representations equal studies of almost exact scientific perfection at rest and in motion. From 1928 onwards, the Nymphenburg manufactory began producing the first porcelain animal figurines with Mênes’ templates. And so it was that this lying cat came about. Like with all the other pieces produced in the masters’ workshops, its strong dark ornamental coat of paint is applied completely by hand.
Those people who have already visited the Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg will know how much care is devoted to the production of each individual item. Whether it is plate or a tureen, a chandelier or a miniature, each object is subjected to the same demands and earns the same levels of attention. Even examples such as this playing kitten that is only three centimetres in size, which Luise Terletzki-Scherf designed in 1933, require a lot of experience and masterly expertise.
A person will pose patiently and very proudly if the artist invites him to be the subject of a portrait. This is not the case with an animal. Whether it is young or old, it follows its mood irrespective of the elegance and grace that is being portrayed. It is precisely this natural manner of the gestures, the clumsy expression of young animals that fascinated Luise Terletzki-Scherf throughout her entire life. In this way, figures were produced such as this playing kitten, which is still being formed by hand and painted in numerous variants to this day.
Those who have held a kitten in their hands know how temperamental and lively the little furballs can be when at play. And how fast the expression can switch between delight, curiosity, and disappointment. With great sensibility, the Aschaffenburg-born artist, Luise Terletzki-Scherf, was able to capture in figurine-form that exact moment of expression when the playful character of this creature comes to the fore.
Obviously, any litter is usually going to have several little kittens in it. As such, the comprehensive work of animal-lover and artist, Luise Terletzki-Scherf, also contains quite a number of different variations of kittens. White with blue eyes, with green eyes, playful tigers or sleeping kitty cats. Along with a large number of her temperamental brothers and sisters, this four-centimetre tall, handpainted figurine of a young cat was created in 1933. The bright green eyes are her trademark.
The colouring of this Baroque cat by Franz Anton Bustelli has nothing to do with the mentality of the followers of the ‘68 generation. The cheekily shaded tufts of hair in hand-polished gold and black reveal rather that this particular kitty is something special: a tortoise-shell cat in three classical colours. But in Japan in particular, the importance of the cat is much more far-reaching: There it is a symbol of good luck which keeps house, garden and resident safe from fire and misfortune. And it may have been precisely this which impressed Bustelli so much.