Georges Croegaert (1848-1923) was a painter who is primarily known for his humorous realistic paintings of cardinals, many of which include cats. Born in Antwerp, he spent most of his life in Paris. He was a successful genre and portrait painter; his paintings were highly sought after by both English and American collectors.
His “cardinal” paintings were termed anti-clerical art as they depict Roman Catholic cardinals in sumptuous surroundings participating in rather banal activities. He was not the only artist to portray cardinals in such a light. Andre Landini also depicted the clergy in the same style even including cats as Croegaert had done. The purpose was to make fun of the lavish and meaningless lifestyles of the clergy. Perhaps adding cats symbolized the bourgeoisie’s life style that had just allowed animals to share their homes in the 19th century. Or the cats could simply add a mischievous and frivolous message to his paintings. It’s interesting to notice that in several of the paintings the cats are painted in the same position as if just copied from one painting to another.