19th-Century Austrian School, Interior Scene With Sleeping Lady, Bird & Cat

19th-Century Austrian School, Interior Scene With Sleeping Lady, Bird & Cat

This charming Austrian watercolour depicts a potentially messy scenario unfolding. An 18th-century lady sleeps, resting after a tiring day, her right-hand clutches a book and her left atop a birdcage. On closer inspection of the cage, we see a canary perched outside of its bars - it’s escaped and looking up towards an open window.

But wait! Between the window at the unsuspecting bird, a white cat is waiting to pounce. Its neck pulled back into its shoulders - moments from striking.

What happened next?

Scenes like this were popular in the 19th-century as they took a lighthearted look back at the decadence of yesteryear. There’s a satirical element and perhaps the painter was also an illustrator.

Could there be a deeper meaning? Is the bird a visual metaphor for the lady in question? Who or what does the cat represent?

The painting is housed within a period frame and glazed.

Medium: Watercolour on paper
Overall size: 13” x 14” / 33cm x 35cm
Year of creation: c. 1900
Condition: Frame with some age-related wear including losses to the surface.

Conservation & History

We care profoundly about our role as custodians and every piece in the collection has been assessed by our conservator. When required, we undertake professional restoration carefully using reversible techniques and adopt a light touch to retain the aged charm of each work. We also restore frames rather than replace them as many are original and selected by the artists themselves.

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