This is one of the first pictures I attempted when I decided to become an illustrator in 1985. I had this idea of creating a picture book of famous people using cats as models to create a hiss-tory. So many people love cats that it seemed like a clever idea at the time. Since then I’ve noticed several bookstores carrying books along these lines. Most of the illustrators who ran with this idea painted cartoons of cats inserted into famous paintings, but I intended to do stroke for stroke copies.
This piece was based on Holbein’s portrait of Anne of Cleves, one of the wives of Henry VIII. Other ideas that might have followed in the series were Cleo-cat-tra and Meow-Zedong.
The model for Anne was a stray in the neighborhood; the belt I made her pose in for hours on end nearly killed her. (Just kidding, cat lovers!)
There must be something I can do with this illustration, but what?