Taking a portrait alongside your favorite feline is no easy task. Cats are notoriously (but delightfully) finicky about following directions, so getting one to sit still for a portrait can be a tall order. Despite that, our collections contain many examples of people posing with their cats – or at least attempting to do so!
Aviator John Moisant took his cat with him everywhere – including when he became the first pilot to fly with a passenger over the English Channel in 1910. Technically, he had two passengers – his mechanic and his feline friend, Mademoiselle Fifi, pictured below!
Photographer Arnold Genthe named all of his cats Buzzer, a reference to their deep purr, which he enjoyed. He had at least four Buzzers in his life! While I haven’t yet come across a photo of Genthe himself with Buzzer, the various incarnations posed with many of the famous subjects of Genthe, such as actress Daisy King, below. (This is likely a very relaxed Buzzer IV.)
Famous felines aside, we have many photos of a family cat with his or her owner, such as the ones clutched by the young girls pictured below:
The next two photos include show cats, so they are quite beautiful though not necessarily more cooperative!
And perhaps saving my favorites for last, enjoy a series of photographs of a Mrs. Emmons attempting to pose with her white cat, with varying levels of success. The photographs come from the collection of photographer C.M. Bell’s Washington, D.C., studio, so we have the successes as well as the “outtakes” of some portrait sessions. I included a fourth photo of just the cat, as perhaps Mrs. Emmons had reached her limit at that point!
- Peruse an album of Purrfect Cat photos, prints and drawings recently added to the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division’s Flickr photostream.
- Cats were also the focus of a recent Library of Congress Free to Use and Reuse set of images: Cats.
- Revisit Picture This blog posts related to the above:
- Coolidge’s Cat: Out of the Bag: What happens when a presidential pet cat goes missing in Washington, D.C.?
- C. M. Bell Studio Collection: Newly Digitized Portraits: A sample of the portrait photos of Washington-based photographer C. M. Bell.
- View the rest of the entries in the occasional Profiling Portraits blog series.