The Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things

Miss Sukey feeds a swaddled cat

John Raphael Smith, “Miss Sukey and her Nursery” (1772). Hand-coloured mezzoprint on paper, 35.2 x 25.0 cm. Published June 15, 1772 by William Humphrey. Collection of the British Museum.

I don’t like to judge another person’s parenting skills, but that steaming food is way too hot to feed a baby. Also, it’s very important to always check that your baby hasn’t been replaced with a tricky cat.⁣

This strange hand-coloured mezzotint by John Raphael Smith is titled “Miss Sukey and her Nursery” (1772). In it, a Georgian woman with a fancy hair wrap feeds a swaddled cat with a spoon from a steaming bowl. The print was published in June 1772 by William Humphrey, a London print-seller who specialized in selling satirical mezzotint prints.

The artist, John Raphael Smith (1751-1812), was best known for his skilled portraits of notable Georgians. But he also made about 120 satirical prints throughout his career, depicting humorous episodes in everyday life such as women impressed by a quack doctor; prostitutes wearing fashionable dresses, or secret lovers hiding in plain sight.

I couldn’t find any records about who Miss Sukey was, but this was a common nickname for ‘Susan’ in middle-class Georgian households. This work is now in the collection of the British Museum.⁣

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  1. Apparently people have been spoon-feeding swaddled cats since the middle ages at least (Google for amusement). Poor puss must be under the weather. This appears to be the 18th c equivalent of trying to get a pet to swallow a pill.

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