John French Sloan, McSorley’s Cats, ca. 1929, Oil on canvas, Huntington Library and Art Gallery, San Marino, CA, USA
From Mariea Caudill Denison’s paper, “McSorley’s: John Sloan’s Visual Commentary on Male Bonding, Prohibition, and the Working Class”,
Bill McSorley stubbornly remained in business by brewing ale in the saloon’s basement, and in 1928, the year that Sloan returned to the subject of McSorley’s, the painter could have visited the old saloon to paint a fresh image of it. As Sloan painted McSorleys Cats in 1928, he included two major elements that are missing from his 1912 painting McSorley s Bar.
The earlier painting pays little heed to the cats that traditionally inhabited the old saloon, but as the title suggests Sloan featured the pets in his 1928 painting. In Western culture, felines have often been associated with women, and cats have been repeatedly linked to prostitutes.
In the 1920s, “cathouse” was a slang term for a house of prostitution, where women might gather around a male visitor as McSorley’s cats swarm around him. One cat paws at Bill McSorley, another rubs against his leg, and a third postures high above. They all give him their undivided attention, the same attention a man would receive in a house of prostitution. By featuring cats in his 1928 painting, Sloan emphasizes the absence of women,especially prostitutes, from “the temple of temperance.” Linking cats to prostitutes has a clear precedent in Sloan’s Chinese Restaurant which depicts a woman, almost certainly a prostitute, holding a morsel of food and tantalizing a cat. In Sloan’s own words, he based the painting on his observation of a “strikingly gotten up girl with dashing red feathers in her hat playing with the restaurant’s fat cat.” Research has convincingly linked both the woman’s attire and her environment to prostitution in New York City.
Don’t some of you like Gravity Falls or something?
I feel so FANCY.
The Felt Case
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↳Florence and the Machine
“Happiness hit her like a train on a track
Coming towards her stuck still no turning back
She hid around corners and she hid under beds
She killed it with kisses and from it she fled.”