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I have been more than usually obsessed with cats in the last week, mostly in the nature of keeping my hands away from their teeth. My cat bite is healing very well and the whole episode is starting to feel like a bizarre dream.

But for lack of any other blog ideas today, I went in search of Regency cats, or cats that appear in Regency art.

The first is by Gillray and is called Harmony Before Matrimony. Near a scene of blissful courtship is a little foreshadowing–two cats fighting. It was somewhat reminiscent of my cat attacking my hand. Put my hand in the place of the cat on the floor.

The next print is called Pluie de Chats. It is raining cats and dogs!

My third depiction of cats in Regency art doesn’t come from the Regency but rather is a depiction of the Regency from around 1900 by Marcus Stone whose art you see often on Regency bookcovers. This one is called End of the Story.

This one shows a typical reading experience for even today. If I’m reading, I’m very likely to have a cat trying to distract me.

If you need to waste some time (and who among us, especially those of us with deadlines, doesn’t need to waste time?) here’s a Cats in Art board on Pinterest.

That’s all for today, folks!

But weigh in…are you a cat person, a dog person, or both?


Elena’s point about our own particular Regency worlds, all perhaps a bit different, made an impression on me. How true it is! Even if we were writing non-fiction, biographies or histories, we still would be putting it through the prism of our own vision. This got me thinking….

Two Victorian artists, Marcus Stone and Edmund Blair Leighton, created a romanticized Regency full of images that you might find familiar. These artists looked back in time and imagined their own idea of the Regency.

Take a look at the painting on the left, a beautiful Regency scene. It’s no surprise that this painting by Marcus Stone graced the cover of Janet’s The Rules of Gentility.

Marcus Stone started his career illustrating books for Charles Dickens, who had been a friend of Stone’s father and took an interest in 19 year old Marcus, when the elder Stone died. Late in his career, Stone specialized in these sentimental paintings that present a very pretty, idealized version of the Regency (and make the images desireable for book covers).

Here are some more of Stone’s Regency Paintings.

Edmund Blair Leighton, like Stone, was the son of an artist, but his father died when Leighton was two years old. Although he trained for a different career, art turned out to be in his blood. He specialized in historical paintings of the medieval and Regency period. His first painting was accepted at the Royal Academy.

Here are some of his romantic Regency paintings:

Yes, these paintings are very sentimental and idealized, but what I love about them is that they all tell a story. The last one is called Playing for the Reverend, but can’t you just spin a story around that one? Or the one with the naval officer. What did he say to her?

Leighton was largely forgotten as an artist, even though his paintings were very popular in their day. In fact, he painted an iconic medieval image that I’ll bet you’ve seen over and over. It’s called The Accolade.

Have you seen these images? Have you seen them on a bookcover? What’s your assessment of the Regency world they depict?

I’ll be back at my own blog on Thursday, Veteran’s Day!

And don’t forget to enter Janet’s LOL Regency contest! I’m working on my entry!

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Yes, they became Victorians.

That’s always something that alarms me when I consider our interpretation of the Regency. If not our characters themselves, then certainly the half-dozen babies of the epilogue grew up to become … like this.

Did it happen overnight or was it a gradual change in sensibilities–or, to put it another way, were the Georgians more Victorian than we like to think?

Pretty much, yes. For instance, William Bowdler (1754-1825) published his improved edition of Shakespeare in 1818, the Family Shakespeare, which omitted certain vulgarities which might offend or corrupt the innocence of women and children during family readings. Don’t you think “Out, out crimson spot!” has a certain appeal?

As early as 1710, the modest pamphlet that grew to be the bestselling book of the eighteenth century, Onania: or, The Heinous Sin of Self-Pollution, and all its Frightful Consequences in Both Sexes, Considered, warned against solo sexual activity. Yes, sex for Georgians was fraught with moral peril and the best approach was to grit your teeth, think of England, and try not to enjoy it because this was all about procreation and duty.

A brief glimpse of fashions during the first couple of decades of the nineteenth century shows women’s clothes evolving from diaphanous muslins with high waists to shaped bodices and puffy sleeves and lowering waistlines, with a shape dictated by corsets and a gradual restriction of movement.

Yes, indeed, dear Mama did appear half naked in public, just like the sensibly dressed young ladies in the cartoon.

Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, published in 1847-48, was illustrated by the author who showed his characters dressed in “contemporary” clothes.

Tastes had changed, as Thackeray explained:

It was the author’s intention, faithful to history, to depict all the characters of this tale in their proper costume, as they wore them at the commencement of this century…I have not the heart to disfigure my heroes and heroines by costumes so hideous; and have, on the contrary, engaged a model of rank dressed according to the present fashion.

Similarly, the painting Before Waterloo by Henry Nelson O’Neil (1868) has not an Empire waistline in sight.

But within a couple of decades tastes had changed once again and with the passing of time came a certain nostalgia for the past. A genre of painting emerged that showed the big bad Regency as being pretty, cute, and innocent.

Marcus Stone (1840-1921), Dickens’ friend and later illustrator, painted a series of genre scenes such as this one. It’s related to his painting In Love that HarperCollins, bless their heart, used for the cover of The Rules of Gentility (same characters, same silly hat, same ribbon and basket, and he still hasn’t plucked up the courage to propose to her!).

Kate Greenaway (1846-1901) also idealized the period.

When you’re reading or writing do you ever consider that the Regency is going to become the Victorian age? Do you want to? Can you imagine the family portraits becoming objects of embarrassment?

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