A lot of Monique’s antique art prints are related to nursery rhymes and children’s tales. “The Comic Adventures of Old Dame Trot and Her Cat” is one of those nonsensical nursery rhymes for kids. Not truly appropriate for today’s kids, but not inappropriate. Just a relic left behind in the tides of change. That doesn’t make it any less interesting for adults, though. In reading the entire rhyme, and seeing the associated art, I had to admit I laughed out loud. At least a little bit. :^)
One thing I’ve learned to be careful of with children’s stories and fairy tales… the originals aren’t always sanitized (I mean not child-safe). You might say they’re ‘pre-Disney’. Some are downright morbid. Dame Trot and her Cat don’t go that far, but there is a variant ending that has the cat living out her days an old spinster and dying in bed. It seems the dog got tired of waiting for her to settle down, and ran away, leaving the cat to end her days in loneliness. I much prefer happier endings.
This print is an original Chromolithograph from the 1870’s, titled “Puss making tea”. The cat (we eventually learn her name is Grimalkin) is pouring breakfast tea as Dame Trot looks on with amazement. Actually, the verse at that point reads:
“Goody awoke and rubbed her eyes,
and drank her cup of tea;
amazed to see her cat behave
with such propriety.”
If you’re interested enough to read this post, you probably already know “Goody” refers to Dame Trot. That was an archaic title shortened from “Goodwife”, in about the same way we use the more modern Mrs or Miss.
I’ve seen several different versions of the cat serving Dame Trot, but this one is by far my favorite. I’ve mentioned it before, but scenes of realistic animals acting in very human fashion are oddly appealing to me.