Cats in 20th Century History and Art (Part 3-Picasso)

When not participating in dangerous flights and setting new records, the cat, just as it had done in previous centuries, played an integral part in art and photography. Enduring as a cultural and social icon, the cat symbolized femininity, sensuality, domesticity, lust, and evil. An essential ingredient for cultural and social commentary, the cat was […]

Cats in the 19th Century (Part 9-Cats in Art-Theophile Steinlen)

Probably best known for his posters, the Swiss artist Théophile Alexandre Steinlen (1859-1923) loved cats. As a young boy, he drew cats in the margins of his books and grew up to live in a house he named, “Cat’s Cottage”.  While living in Paris, his house on the Rue Caulaincourt  became a well-known gathering place for all the […]

Cats in the Enlightenment (Part 16 – Cats in Art – Francisco Goya)

Francisco Goya (1746-1828), used cats in art as symbols and allegories in his etchings.  In the 1799 etching Alla va eso or in English, There it Goes, part of the Caprichos group of etchings, a witch holds on to the devil who is holding some sort of staff which a cat bites.  Goya often used […]

Cats in the Enlightenment (Part 15 – Cats in Art – Gainsborough, Mind, Fragonard, Gerard

Cats in art were found in all countries of Europe. Painters such as Gainsborough, Mind, Fragonard, and Gerard captured the unruly feline on their canvases. The English painter Thomas Gainsborough captured cats in art in his painting Six Studies of Cats (1765-70) which seems to be a bit reminiscent of Leonardo DaVinci’s studies of cats.   […]

Cats in the Enlightenment (Part 14 – Cats in Art – Perronneau, Crespi, Desportes)

CAT ARTISTS PERRONNEAU, CRESPI, DESPORTES The French painter Jean Baptiste Perronneau (1715-1783), specialized in portraits which were more prestigious and lucrative than landscapes.  Girl with a Kitten painted in 1745, shows a very pretty young girl holding a long haired grey cat, one of its paws held gently in her hand.  The grey of the […]

Cats in the Enlightenment (Part 13 – Cats in Art – William Hogarth)

The English painter, William Hogarth, (1697-1794), who was highly critical of the lax social mores of the time, set out to draw and paint about issues which he felt strongly, using the cat symbolically in many of his works.  A versatile artist, Hogarth was both a painter and engraver.  Some of his most famous engravings […]


The Dutch painters of the golden age turned to realism instead of religious subjects, as portrait painting was much more lucrative. Baroque Dutch genre paintings tend to illustrate everyday life at all levels of society, and cats, essential to most households, are often in these still lifes and portraits. In The Katzen Familie (1650), the […]


The Cat in Mannerist Paintings Paintings in the Mannerist style, an artistic movement which blossomed from the Renaissance, focused less on naturalistic portrayals.  Hans Baldung, a student of Albrecht Dürer, usually known for his renditions of profane witches, in a later allegorical Mannerist work entitled, Music (1484),   a harmless white cat sits next to […]


THE CAT IN EARLY MODERN PERIOD ART The Renaissance, which ushered in a rebirth of classical thought, first started in Italy and then spread to the whole of Europe.  Renaissance artists such as Bosch, Dürer, Ghirlandaio, DaVinci and many others produced exquisite paintings that included the cat as a symbol of domesticity, fertility-lust, treachery and evil. Most often cats found their […]


The Cat in India: In India the cat, known in Sanskrit as Acoubouk† or Margara, was frequently mentioned in the original fables of Bidpay, also known as the Panchatantra (Hered, 1829, p.309).  The original of the Panchatantra, or the “Five Discourses”, is credited to a King who feared that his sons would not be able […]

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