This animated scene shows a cat caught in the act of devouring an octopus. The painting, dating from the high point of Recco’s career, shows the painter’s exceptional ability to depict a dazzling range of surfaces and materials, from iridescent fish scales, slimy mollusks, and other crustaceans, to hammered copper. Recco, who painted the seaweed into the letters of his initials (G R), was certainly aware of Flemish and Spanish still-life paintings which were popular and much admired in Naples in the seventeenth century.
Inscription: Signed (lower left): G R
Léon Gauchez and Alexis Febvre, Paris, until 1870; sold to Blodgett]; William T. Blodgett, Paris and New York (1870–71; sold half share to Johnston); William T. Blodgett and John Taylor Johnston, New York (1871; sold to MMA)
Sarasota. John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. "Baroque Painters of Naples," March 4–April 4, 1961, no. 43.
New Orleans. Isaac Delgado Museum of Art. "Fêtes de la palette: An Exhibition of European Paintings and Decorative Arts from the Mid-sixteenth through the Mid-eighteenth Century Dedicated to the 'Delights of the Bountiful Table'," Thanksgiving 1962–Twelfth Night 1963, no. 51.
Nolfo di Carpegna. "I Recco: note e contributi." Bollettino d'arte, 4th ser., 46 (January–June 1961), p. 132 n. 35, mentions this picture as an example of Recco's work in collections outside Italy.
Creighton Gilbert. Baroque Painters of Naples. Exh. cat., John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. Sarasota, 1961, p. 45, no. 43, ill.
Oreste Ferrari. "Seicento Napoletano a Sarasota." Napoli nobilissima 1 (March–April 1962), p. 238.
James B. Byrnes inFêtes de la palette: An Exhibition of European Paintings and Decorative Arts from the Mid-sixteenth through the Mid-eighteenth Century Dedicated to the "Delights of the Bountiful Table". Exh. cat., Isaac Delgado Museum of Art. New Orleans, 1962, unpaginated, no. 51, pl. 29, compares this picture to two works signed "I A," which were at one time attributed to Recco, noting in particular how the crab by "I A," like Recco's cat, "mesmerizes the beholder".
Federico Zeri with the assistance of Elizabeth E. Gardner. Unpublished manuscript for catalogue of Neapolitan paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. [ca. 1970], describe it as a minor example of Recco's art, which must be dated to his mature period.
Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. 173, 492, 605.
Katharine Baetjer. "Buying Pictures for New York: The Founding Purchase of 1871." Metropolitan Museum Journal 39 (2004), pp. 215, 245, appendix 1A no. 134, ill.