Page:Notes and Queries - Series 9 - Volume 10.djvu/324

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NOTES AND QUERIES. [9* s. x. OCT. is, 1902.

This would seem to point to Philippa of Hain- ault or Catherine Swinford as the originator of the feature. It is worth noting that both Henry V. and his brother the Duke of Bed- ford have curious noses, that might con- ceivably be bad variations of the Beaufort feature.

I cannot find any trace of the feature in such portraits as exist of the Nevills of the Salisbury and Warwick and Abergavenny branch, who descend from Joan Beaufort; on the contrary, it would rather seem that the broad strong animal face that begins with Edward IV. and continues through his daughter to Henry VIII. might come from the Nevills : it certainly does not seem the Plantagenet type. KALPH NEVILL, F.S.A.

Southhill, Guildford.

" KIT-CAT " PORTRAITS (9 th S. x. 188, 231). The following notice concerning the Kit- Cat Club I copy from Joseph Sandell's 'Memoranda of Art and Artists,' published in 1871. The appended stanzas, if not the whole reference, formerly appeared in the Gentleman's Magazine :

" The club is said to have been founded by Jacob Tonson, the bookseller. However this may have been, he was certainly their secretary. He was an active man at all their meetings, and as a testimony of the good disposition of his illustrious friends towards him, they each presented him with their portraits. These were painted by Sir Godfrey Kneller. The club is reported to have derived its title from the name of the person at whose house the meetings were first held. This was one Christo- pher Cat, an obscure pastrycook, who lived origin- ally in Shire Lane, Temple Bar, but subsequently at the Fountain Tavern, Strand. The standing dish at supper was mutton pies ; for the manufacture of which Mr. Cat had acquired considerable reputa- tion. A different etymology of the club's name has been assigned by Arbuthnot. In the following epigram he seems to refer it to the custom of toast- ing ladies after dinner, peculiar to those gentlemen :

Whence deathless Kit-Cat took its name, Few critics can unriddle ;

Some say from pastrycook it came, And some from cat and fiddle.

From no trim beaux its name it boasts, Grey statesmen or green wits ;

But from its pell-mell pack of toasts, Of old cats and young kits."

In 1867 a painting, then in the posses- sion of Lady Windsor, was shown at the Exhibition of National Portraits at South Kensington. It was ascribed to Sir Godfrey Kneller, and the following description, under the title 'Members of the Kit-Cat Club,' appears in the Catalogue (vide No. 145) :

" The Kit-Cat Club, instituted about 1700, was composed of friwids (called by Walpole 'patriots who saved England'); they used to meet at the pie-man Christopher Catt's tavern, at first in Shire

Lane, Temple Bar ; afterwards at Jacob Tonspn's at Barn Elms, who built a room for their reception, in which their portraits originally hung ; the club ultimately numbered 48 members, whose portraits were painted by Sir Godfrey Kneller, and were pre- sented to Jacob Tonson. The scene of this picture is described as a ' room in Christopher Cat's house, Chelsea Walk ; Steele, Ld. Oxford, Addison, and his stepson little Ld. Warwick, Sir G. Kneller, and others, at tea.' Group of eight full-length figures in a room, seated and standing about a card-table, and drinking tea ; E. of Warwick as a child. Can- vas, 77 by 60 in."

In the same Catalogue (No. 147) the follow- ing notes are published concerning Kneller's portrait of Jacob Tonson :

"Sec. to the Kit-Cat Club, which he is said to have originated ; they first met at Christopher Catt's (see No. 137), afterwards at Barn Elms, Tonson's country house, where he built a room for their meet- ings ; the portraits of the forty - eight members painted by Sir Godfrey Kneller, and presented to Tonson, hung in this room till his death; they were of one size, thence called Kit-Cat ; he had them engraved by Faber and pub. in 1723 ; d. 1736."

No. 137, a portrait of Christopher Catt by Kneller, was lent by Mrs. H. W. Hutton. His name affords the most reasonable theory concerning the origin of the appellation of the club. Previous to his removal to the " Fountain " Tavern he is said to have lived under the sign of the " Cat and Fiddle." His mutton pies these also were called "Kit- Cats " made him celebrated. The club seems to have existed no longer than twenty years. Kneller's opinion was that Tonson's particular friend Kit Catt would make the best portrait of them all. In the picture he holds a glass of wine in the left hand.

The conclusion of the whole matter appears to be that originally the term sprang from the name of Tonson's friend. Subsequently Faber's well-known mezzotints made the length of portrait adopted by Kneller so familiar that the word " Kit-Cat " gradually came into use as a descriptive term.


92, Leighton Road, N.W.

To the Editorial reply to MR. McGovERN's query the following may be added. The members of the famous Kit-Cat Club, which flourished at the beginning of the eighteenth century, had their portraits painted less than half-length by Kneller, to be hung in the club-room. Afterwards portraits less than half-length, but including the hands, were invariably called "Kit-Cat" or " Kit-Kat," and are so described to this day. The origin of the word " Kit-Cat " has been hotly debated, but it may be worth recording that a family called Kitcat was living at Bere Regis, in Dorset, in 1861. CHARLES HIATT.