Kittens at play signed and dated 'Henriette Ronner./97.' (lower left) oil on canvas 113 x 85cm (44 1/2 x 33 7/16in).
PROVENANCE: Sale, Georges Giroux, Brussels, 17 November 1956, lot 58 Private collection, Belgium
LITERATURE: Elsevier Magazine, The Netherlands, October 1902, illustrated
Henriette Ronner-Knip is perhaps best known for her paintings of cats, but it was not until later in life that she specialised in this genre; in the early years of her career she painted a greater variety of subjects. At the age of fifteen she had already sold her first painting at an exhibition in Dusseldorf.
In 1850 she married Feico Ronner and together they moved to Brussels. The Belgian capital enjoyed an industrious and prosperous climate, in which art became increasingly important. This environment attracted many renowned Dutch artists, such as Paul Gabriel (1828-1903), Hendrik Willem Mesdag (1831-1915), Willem Roelofs (1822-1897) and Willem Bastiaan Tholen (1860-1931).
Ronner's fame soon rose, especially after the Queen of Belgium commissioned her to paint two of her favorite lapdogs in 1876. This led to many more commissions for depicting domestic animals, her patrons including the King of Hanover, Emperor Wilhelm I of Prussia and the Princess of Wales.
The current lot is a wonderful example of Ronner's keen eye for detail, the mother cat depicted in a watchful pose, while the kittens set out on a mischievous quest.