by Pharaoh Fred with Curator Julie Aronson as humble scribe
I am Pharaoh Fred from the Furrst Dynasty and I am the benevolent despot of the kingdom of Save The Animals Foundation (STAF), a sanctuary and adoption center for pets in Cincinnati. When enlightened Art Museum curator Julie Aronson asked me to comment on the summer exhibition Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt, I said, “Well—it’s about time museums acknowledged the vital importance of the cat to the history of art and culture!” But what’s wrong with the Egyptians that, as the exhibition explains, they “did not worship cats?!” I yowled at the declaration that the ancient Egyptians “domesticated” the cat. No self-respecting feline would ever deign to be domesticated! MEEEOW! We made it clear to the Egyptians that we would only protect their food supply from mice if they showered gourmet delicacies and all manner of pampering upon us. We certainly had them twisted around our sharp little claws!
All shapes and sizes of felines grace the exhibition, in sculptures that reveal the Egyptians’ tireless passion for observing our gorgeousness and their understandable fascination with our behavior: our astounding athleticism, predatory acumen and nurturing of kittens. Many of their deities were weird composites of cats and people that they believed conferred our admirable qualities upon them. (We let them delude themselves—sofas were beckoning.)
The Egyptians were not the only suckers—printmakers through the ages and across cultures have been completely besotted with us. You can relish the fruits of their feline obsession in this summer’s special features “Master Cats” and “Modern Cat.” Purrr.
Pharaoh Fred will dignify you with an audience during “adoption hours” at STAF (www.staf.org), and if you consent to bringing my banquet on a pillow (and my daily heart pill), it would be my honor to rule your household with a golden paw.
For information about the Cincinnati Art Mewseum’s cat-themed exhibitions and programs, visit http://www.cincinnatiartmuseum.org/
Pharaoh Fred, ruler of Save The Animals Foundation
Seated Wadjet, 664–332 B.C.E., Bronze, 20 ½ x 4 7/8 x 9 ½ in. (52.1 x 12.4 x 24.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum. Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 36.622
Weight in the Form of a Cat, 305–30 B.C.E., Bronze, silver, lead, 2 ¼ x 1 1/8 x 2 3/8 in., 0.6 lb. (5.7 x 2.9 x 6 cm, 257.52 g). Brooklyn Museum. Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.424E