Europeans were not the only ones painting our famous beast during this period. Japanese, Chinese, Korean and even Indian painters also included cats in Asian art of the 18th century. Children with a Cat and Mouse, 1768-69, by the Japanese painter Suzuki Harunobu (1725-1770), shows a young boy holding a rather large white cat while his mother and sister look on.
In another painting, Harnobu captures the princess Nyosan-no-Miya with her cat at her feet, a typical pose for the time.
Gan Ku, influenced by the Chinese Nagasaki style, created a rather ornate realistic scroll painting where a black and white cat has just killed a bird.
In another painting from the Edo period, again a black and white cat sits up to smell some peonies appropriately entitled Cat and Peonies.
Another attributed to Isoda Koryûsai and also of the Edo period is Cat Looking at Three Butterflies. The oblong representation shows a calico cat looking up at three pinkish butterflies.
In Cat and a Goldfish Bowl, 1765-1780 also by Koryusai, a black and white cat stealthily balances on the rim of the bowl to look down at his hapless victims.
In Woman Holding a Cat a woman holds a black and white cat at arm’s length above her head as if it were a child with whom she were playing or admiring. The colors black and white have similar meanings in both Japanese and Western cultures. Black represents foreboding, doom, and death and white purity and goodness. The symbolism of the cats being black and white might represent the duality between good and evil, or the balance of good and evil, or perhaps the Chinese concept of yin and yang.
Moving away from the peaceful coexistence with nature that the Japanese prints depict, the 18th century Indian painting, A Lady Chases a Cat with a Stick, reveals a rude violence that sharply contrasts with Japanese depictions of the cat.
Painters in Korea and China also found the cat to be an irresistible subject. In Painting of Cats and Sparrows by Byeon Sangbyeok-Myojakdo a black and white cat and a tabby and white cat look at each other as one climbs a tree filled with birds.
And in the Chinese painting Cat Watching a Butterfly, we see a black and white long haired cat looking up totally absorbed in the meanderings of the unsuspecting butterfly.