Arnold Genthe (1869 – 1942) was a German-born American photographer. Genthe had earned a doctorate in Philology before deciding to pursue photography in the early 20th century.
Beginning in 1906, Genthe photographed a number of socialites and young girls with a cat he named Buzzer. Using four different cats all named Buzzer, the series of photographs spans over ten years. Each of the women in the photographs exudes either a matronly or seductive aura while Buzzer in some photos looks as if he can barely tolerate being in the arms of these socialites. Perhaps the use of the cat was meant more as a symbol of the duality of the female nature instead of depicting the snobbish intolerance and indifference of Buzzer.
Genthe wrote in his autobiography, As I Remember (1936), “It is told that at the age of four, when I was taken by the nurse to look at my newly arrived brother Hugo, I seriously remarked, ‘I’d like a little kitten better.’ I am fond of dogs, but cats have always meant more to me, and they have been the wise and sympathetic companions of many a solitary hour.”