Boy and a Girl with a Cat
Oil on canvas, 60.5x50cm
Jan Miense Molenaer was a Dutch Golden Age genre painter whose style was a precursor to Jan Steen’s work during Dutch Golden Age painting. He shared a studio with his wife, Judith Leyster, also a genre painter, as well as a portraitist and painter of still-life. Both Molenaer and Leyster may have been pupils of the successful Dutch painter, Frans Hals.
Molenaer was born and died in Haarlem. He achieved a style close to Hals’ early on in his career, but later developed a style like that of Dutch genre painter, Adriaen van Ostade. His genre works often depicted players of music, such as his The Music Makers (Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest), The Duet (Seattle Art Museum), or Family Making Music (Frans Hals Museum). He also depicted Taverns and the activities of card games or games of the times such as La main chaude, or in Dutch, Handjeklap, which literally means clapping hands. Molenaer also cleverly depicted biblical stories in his own time and surroundings, such as representing a scene from Peter’s Gospel set in a Dutch Tavern in The Denying of Peter (Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest).
The painting “Boy and a Girl with a Cat” can be compared to the Children playing with a cat kept at the Museum of Fine Arts in Dunkirk (see J.A. Welu, P. Biesboer, op. cited above, n° 30, reproduced).
This subject was much appreciated by Jan Miense Molenaer who painted at least seven versions of it known by originals or copies. It was also a popular subject for the painters of Haarlem, in particular Dirck Hals or Judith Leyster with Two children and a cat, in a private collection, and Children with a cat and an eel, kept at the Trustees of the National Gallery in London (see J.A. Welu, P. Bisboer, op. cited above, n° 3 and 13, reproduced). This motif very probably derives from an original composition by Frans Hals as evidenced by the engraving by Cornelis Danckeerts (see J.A. Welu, P. Bisboer, op. cited above, n° 3b, reproduced).
The association of angry cat and mischievous children is linked to a Dutch expression describing mischief: Kattekwaad. Molenaer likes to demonstrate, by describing children from good families, that playfulness is present in all social classes.
with C. Benedikt, Paris, by 1955.
Private collection, France, as Attributed to Judith Leyster.
with Pardo, Paris, by 1960.
Anonymous sale; Versailles Enchères Perrin-Royère-Lajeunesse, Versailles, 8 October 2006, lot 40.
with J. Roelofs, Amsterdam, 2012.
Private collection, Switzerland
J.A. Welu, P. Biesboer, Judith Leyster, A Dutch Master and her world, New Haven/London, 1993, p. 292, fig. 30.
D.P. Weller, Jan Miense Molenaer, Painter of the Dutch Golden Age, Raleigh, 2002, p. 33, fig. 8.