Wednesday, 24 October 2012

CHARMED ~ Moushkin - painted by Lady Marion Rootes

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


  1. What beautiful portraits! A beautiful lady. And a beautiful story! Thanks for sharing this! Purrs...

  2. What a lovely story and post. Thank you so much for this. :) It was serendipity that you found Moushkin and she you.. I love her Mona Lisa smile. It's so feline-like and mischievous. And i'm glad she's going home. Just think, you've done such a magnificent thing in reuniting her with her family!

  3. This story has just had me totally enthralled - what power the internet has. Sometimes bad, but in this case for the good.
    Your generosity speaks volumes, and I am sure that you have made a new and very grateful acquaintance from across the seas.
    The painting is lovely, what a happy reconnection for the family.
    Lady Marion Rootes was most likely married to one of the sons of William Rootes, 1st Baron Rootes, noted Coventry motor manufacturer who made Hillman, Singer, and Humber cars - now owned by Chrysler.

  4. Sweet Minerva! How lovely it is to see you on my comment page and to come her, to savor a moment in your corner of the world! Cats are very difficult to draw, let alone paint. This is a darling rendition of this pretty little feline, and that woman, TRULY A GORGEOUS lady.

    I hope you are enjoying a fine autumn as we are; the colors and special this year and hanging on longer than usual. But our first frost is scheduled for this weekend, so our legendary winters will soon begin.

    Many thanks for your visit and kind words!! Anita

  5. Quelle Jolie dessin!!:0) J 'adore c'est tres Jolie!! :0)
    J'espere que mon dessin sur mon blog va aussi vous praisez !!!! :0)

    Bonne semaine!!!
    xxx Maria xxx

  6. This is truly a magical story, beautifully written, Minervia!
    I'm sure your kindness and generosity will bring you some good cat karma. ;-)
    The day we visited Ramsbury was a lovely sunny day and there was certainly magic in the air when you found the picture in the charity shop.
    Do you remember all of those white doves that we saw? They flew right in front of us!
    We had a nice walk around the village too. A walk for me down memory lane as I used to live in Ramsbury.

    Lady Rootes and Moushkin were both real beauties and it's perfect that the picture is now going home back to it's family.
    I think Moushkin is going to be featured as one of the fairy cats in my illustrations along with Willow Catkin!

    JO. xx

    Thank you for mentioning the fairy pictures in your last post. I'm so pleased that 'The Fairy Thief' print sold at the Emporium! ;-)

    1. Jo, I'm glad that we have shared Moushkin's story and I'm sure that she would be honoured to be included in your 'Fairy cats' too! I had forgotten about the Doves! That was indeed a magical day that we had. xx

  7. My, what a captivating story. It could easily be turned into a children's storybook. Maybe, that should be your next adventure :)
    Have a lovely weekend.
    Your blogging sister, Connie :)

  8. This is a truly special story. Your instincts about Moushkin being a magical cat surely were correct. And to think how small our world truly is - well, it is simply amazing. I am glad that Moushkin is home with family, although with you she was with family too. Ann

    Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  9. Thank you to everyone for leaving such lovely comments about the story of the charming cat who won my heart. (One of them ...) Connie, you are thinking along the same lines as me, it is a cute story! Rosemary, you are correct, Lady Marion was married into the automobile family. The local connection is that they lived at Ramsbury Manor in the village of Ramsbury, where I found the picture. Minerva xx

  10. Oh what a marvelous story indeed!! Just loved it!! Thank you so much for sharing it with us. I'm glad you have the photograph & the blog posts & the story itself.. of course! Much love Catherine x0x0x

  11. Oh my goodness, pass the tissues.... what a wonderful story! :)))

  12. That is unbelievable like a fairytale and sooo touching...
    Just lovely
    Daisy j x


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