"Young Girl with Cat" by Nicola Marschall

Nicola Marschall (1829–1917)
Young Girl with Cat
Oil on canvas
28½ x 36 inches
Gift of the Robert Powell Coggins Art Trust; 1993.C9450

At first glance, this painting by Nicola Marschall of a young girl and her cat does not appear to be a typical portrait. The girl is not formally posed, but rather sits upright, leaning to one side and hugging a small gray cat. Her dress has slipped off her right shoulder, while her left shoe and sock have come off her foot and lay in the foreground. Nicola Marschall has not just captured the likeness of this particular child but also the carefree spirit of childhood.

Despite the informality of the subject, Marschall has pictured her in a formal portrait setting. The red drapery to the girl's left, the small stool on which the cats rests, and the landscaped background equipped with an urn of intricately painted flowers, all echo European portrait styles of the period.