Fur and Feathers: A New Exhibition in the Print and Picture Collection Hallway

By Laura S. RSS Mon, May 16, 2016

Cat lovers and bird lovers unite! While cats and birds have a contentious relationship in nature, images of them have been living harmoniously side-by-side in the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Print and Picture Collection. Fur and Feathers: A Cautious Pairing of Cats and Birds is on view now in the Print and Picture Collection Hallway Gallery on the 2nd floor of Parkway Central Library through September 9. This exhibition of prints, drawings, and photographs includes work by Audubon, Dalí, Muybridge, and other artists inspired by our furry and feathered friends. The Hallway Gallery is open Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m, and Sunday 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The genesis of Fur and Feathers was the desire to show off one of our many chromolithographs from the Julius Bien edition of John James Audubon’s Birds of America. While diving into our collections and looking for other examples of birds, we found many wonderful images of cats—and the idea of a “cautious pairing of cats and birds” took flight. Many of the works on view come from our Fine Art Prints and Photographs Collections. Audubon’s Blue Jay and Penfield’s Cover for 1897 Calendar are found in the Americana Collection. Prints by Gordon Deacon, Eleanor Banks, and David Cain, as well as Louise Welsh’s Visit the Zoo poster, are part of the WPA (Work Projects Administration) Collection. Drawings by Edwin Forbes and Ruth Mary Hallock are from the Rosenthal Collection of Drawings by American Artists, which includes 846 drawings by artists of the 19th and 20th centuries. The exhibition also includes an advertising card from our Philadelphiana Collection, works from the Japanese Print Collection, and a copy of Ursula K. Le Guin's Catwings from the Free Library’s Children’s Literature Research Collection. When the Print and Picture Collection is open (Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.), come inside to see the original cover illustration for Catwings by S. D. Schindler.

We also created an animation of Eadweard Muybridge's 1877 collotype of a "Cat trotting, changing to a gallop."

Eadweard Muybridge. [Cat trotting, changing to a gallop]. Animation of 1877 Collotype.

We hope you enjoy this collection of felines and fowl from the Print and Picture Collection. Please let us know what you think on our sign-in register or by email @ erefpix@freelibrary.org.

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I hope this opportunity will be used to educate the public about the importance of keeping cats indoors. I am a biologist, birder and lover of cats. I keep my cats well cared for indoors for the safety of the cats and the wildlife.
Gail M - New York
Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Glad to see this. I went to the link for the Eleanor Banks work and saw that it is listed as hand colored. Hard to tell from the photo but my thought was the technique Banks used might actually be a colored carborundum relief etching. Unique to Philadelphia's WPA workshop this would make Bank's print a little more special than simply hand colored. Colored carborundum relief etching was a further development of the celebrated Dox Thrash, Michael Gallagher, Hugh Mesibov invention, the carborundum mezzotint, aka carbograph or Opheliagraph after Thrash's mother. I look forward to seeing this work face to face.
Ron Rumford - Philadelphia
Thursday, June 30, 2016