Wednesday, December 28, 2011

And so with more knowledge comes greater understanding of the whole...

As often happens I find myself reading about one subject not understanding a reference to another subject.  This of course is not an uncommon occurrence as people are busy, work, sometimes fall into what they love and do not resurface for a bit, ex-cetera... I perhaps enjoy more information than I have time in three incarnations to read, learn, see, and study - but not for a lack of trying. To the point... In reading 'Renaissance Rivals' by Rona Goffen in the Preface it mentions "...making the Venetian (Sabastiano del Piombo) a cat's paw in his (by his it is Michelangelo) rivalry with Raphael".... I knew this term but I did not truly understand the meaning..... 

Enter Google stage right!

The Monkey and the Cat (Aesop's Fable), Tommaso Salini, Called Mao (Rome c 1575-1625),
60 1/4 x 47 1/2 in, oil on canvas, 17th Century

Ah, Aesop's Fables is the reason I recognize this phase - Jean La Fontaine's poem:

The Cat's Paw, Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, English 

XVII Le Singe,  le Chat

Bertrand Raton, one monkey and one cat, 
Commensals than one home, had a common Master. 
harmful animal was a very good dish, 
they both feared there any, any kind might be. 
there was something in the house of spoiled, 
no one was attacking the point people in the neighborhood. 
Bertrand stole everything; Raton in turn 
was less attentive to cheese than mice. 
One day at the corner of fire our two master thieves 
looking roast chestnuts. 
The scam was a very good deal: 
Our gallant saw profit double to do 
their very first, and then the evil of others. 
Bertrand told Raton: Brother, it is today ' Today 
you to do a master stroke. 
Draw me these chestnuts. If God had given birth 
to Clean pull chestnuts from the fire, 
While brown beautiful game would 
sooner said than done: Raton with his paw, 
speaking delicate, 
Ecarte a little ash, and removes the fingers, 
then the deferred to several times 
a Tire brown, then two, then three in cheats. 
Yet Bertrand undertakers. 
A maid comes: Farewell my people. Raton 
was not happy, what they say. 
Also are not most of those princes 
who, flattered by such a job, 
Will scalded in the Provinces 
for the benefit of a King.
~ Fontaine

In France, the fable had been used satirically for the ambitious sacrificing of the life/lives of others for ones own ends.  This was often connected to the military and politics.  This explains the use of "cat's paw" by the writer to me relating the relationship dynamic of Michelangelo, Raphael, and Sebastiano.  

et en français

XVII, Le Singe, & le Chat

The Monkey and the Cat, Illustration for Jean de La Fontaine's Fables on p 186,
by Gustave Dore

Bertrand avec Raton, l'un Singe et l'autre Chat,
Commensaux d'un logis, avaient un commun Maître.
D'animaux malfaisants c'était un très bon plat ;
Ils n'y craignaient tous deux aucun, quel qu'il pût être.
Trouvait-on quelque chose au logis de gâté,
L'on ne s'en prenait point aux gens du voisinage.
Bertrand dérobait tout ; Raton de son côté
Etait moins attentif aux souris qu'au fromage.
Un jour au coin du feu nos deux maîtres fripons
Regardaient rôtir des marrons.
Les escroquer était une très bonne affaire :
Nos galands y voyaient double profit à faire,
Leur bien premièrement, et puis le mal d'autrui.
Bertrand dit à Raton : Frère, il faut aujourd'hui
Que tu fasses un coup de maître.
Tire-moi ces marrons. Si Dieu m'avait fait naître
Propre à tirer marrons du feu,
Certes marrons verraient beau jeu.
Aussitôt fait que dit : Raton avec sa patte,
D'une manière délicate,
Ecarte un peu la cendre, et retire les doigts,
Puis les reporte à plusieurs fois ;
Tire un marron, puis deux, et puis trois en escroque.
Et cependant Bertrand les croque.
Une servante vient : adieu mes gens. Raton
N'était pas content, ce dit-on.
Aussi ne le sont pas la plupart de ces Princes
Qui, flattés d'un pareil emploi,
Vont s'échauder en des Provinces
Pour le profit de quelque Roi.

~ Jean de La Fontaine - Fables

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