|Moushkin by Lady Rootes|
Some of you may remember a post we wrote in August when the lovely artist, illustrator and jewellery maker Joanne May and I had a little wander in the village of Ramsbury, Wiltshire. We could not resist having a look in the local charity shop which often has some lovely bits of china. There I came eye to eye with a pretty black and white cat with amber eyes and a secret smile staring down from the wall at me.
In my search for things to sell, and things to keep, I do come across a lot of paintings of cats. Many of these do not look like real cats which makes them uninteresting. This one really caught my attention and I could not look away. It was as if the eyes were watching me from behind those flowers!
I bought it and added it to the items needing to be priced for the shop. It stayed there for a few days and by then I knew that it would never be sold. I had become attached to this cat. It reminded me of TS Eliot's Jellicle Cats because of the dancing eyes and Mona Lisa smile. I once had 2 such cats in my life, a very long time ago and my fondness for them made me long to know who this cat with such a big presence was. I researched Lady Marion Rootes, the name of the painter which was written on the back, and decided to post about it in case anyone could tell me anything. This is what we posted -
A Jellicle Cat by Lady Marion Rootes
|Lady Marion Rootes, considered by many to be the most beautiful|
woman of her generation.
This is the age of communication and yet it never ceases to amaze me when thepower of the internet can be harnassed for good. I had not given up the search for Lady Rootes or the name of this cat and last week when I visited The Emporium to drop off some stock there was a letter from someone in California who claimed the pastel - and the cat! I sat in Raffles Cafe reading her letter over one of their very nice coffees, and admit that I did shed a tear.
|Photo of a young Moushkin taken by Camilla, Grandaughter of Lady Rootes|
I owe the very pretty cat an apology because in my previous post I referred to her as 'he'. How foolish of me, anyone could see that he was a she. That wise elegant head and flirty eyes. It turns out that Lady Rootes painted a family pet and her name was Moushkin.
It would appear that Moushkin came to the family by accident, but even at such a tender age she was in control of her own destiny. While at the vet with a dog it was brought to their attention that an unwanted kitten was about to be put down unless saved that day. It seems that Moushkin's ability to touch people was there from the start. The vet who made an effort to save her and the kind heart who gave her the 'forever' home were equally charmed by her. She was a much loved pet, as I had suspected when I first saw the painting of her, and she lived to a grand old cat age. Moushkin passed away long ago and Camilla who had grown up with her moved to California leaving behind the pastel of Moushkin. She hoped that one day it might be passed to her to join other portraits of her family and pets by Lady Rootes and her sister, and by Camilla herself as both she and her husband are artists - this is a talented family!
Sadly earlier this year Lady Rootes passed away in her 90's and during house moves this pastel of Moushkin was mislaid. They had thought that it was lost to them forever. But Moushkin had at least one last trick up her sleeve, she worked her charm again and I was captivated.
Purely by accident a relative happened to come across my post about the picture and shared it with Camilla who decided to write to me to try to buy the picture back.
Now, only someone with a very cold heart could sell Moushkin back to her own family.
Even as a kitten her willpower and spirit had saved her and found her a loving home. She enchanted Lady Rootes who captured her presense so well that many years after she had died her bright spirit still lived on in the pastel and had the power to reach out to me.
I have loved and been loved by many cats, each one special. I would very much have liked to have known Moushkin, and in a way I feel that I have.
My husband has photographed Moushkin so that I may keep a small print of her to remember the adventure her and I have had and the small part she granted to me in helping her to get home again.
Sometime in the future she will be handed back to the woman who saved her at the vets that day long ago and finally she will find her way across the sea to live with the young family of the girl who grew up with her.
It's magic isn't it?
You can see some of the art of Camilla and Richard Shaffer here:
Their website Zebra Paris