Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Ronald Searle: Cats Under the Rainbow

An Unusual Day is an unusual watercolor by Ronald Searle dating from 1971. The inverted rainbow seems to counter the earthbound bleakness of the landscape, but only partially; it is a restrained, muted rainbow that touches the surface of the globe at only one point. A solitary and disheveled cat bears witness to the state of the urban environment's outskirts.  

Ronald Searle
An Unusual Day, 1971

Ronald Searle
Sotheby's London
A Private View:  Property from the Country Home of Christopher Cone and Stanley J. Seeger
Lot 80, October 30, 2018

Detail under the rainbow

Detail of cat

Last month this art sold for nearly three times Sotheby's high estimate, a sign of Searle's enduring appeal even when he's making social commentary.

The 1972 lithograph The Long March features another Searle inverted rainbow, this one festive and with a loop de loop, under which are more numerous and happier cats.
Ronald Searle
The Long March, 1972, edition of 99

Searle's 1983 lithograph An Angel Passed... escalates to a knotted rainbow. The signed print was included in the limited edition of Ronald Searle in Perspective. Now, a moment of silence...
Ronald Searle
An Angel Passed..., 1983, edition of 250

Searle's preparatory art for the lithograph is drawn on two attached sheets of paper, with the lines visible below the heads of the two foremost cats. It appears that Searle had started with just the knotted snake and then decided to expand the composition and add the background. If this is correct, the cats, the hills, the rainbow as well as the bicycle were all afterthoughts. The drawing is currently listed with Chris Beetles in London:
Ronald Searle
An Angel Passed...
Preparatory drawing for the lithograph, 1983

Ronald Searle
Chris Beetles Gallery listing retrieved November 27, 2018


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