Cats In Art – Past Present Future

Artwork that involves animals is always on my radar, no surprise, and I appreciate any type of art that involves cats. There are lots out there but I have attempted to narrow it down to a few of my personal favorites past, present and future.

I have been fascinated by Egypt and its artwork ever since I can remember, and as a child I will never forget seeing the beautiful artifacts of the famous Pharaoh Tutankhamen at the ROM exhibit here in Toronto. Most people are aware that ancient Egyptians worshiped and revered felines, depicting them in the forms of Deities with the most famous being Bast. Bast had different incarnations before being represented as a domestic cat, which I think is the image most are familiar with. I know it’s the first one I remember seeing and it has been ingrained in memory ever since.

Cats, History, Art, Egypt, Gods

Bast or Bastet as being represented as a domestic cat

“You are the Great Cat, the avenger of the gods, and the judge of words, and the president of the sovereign chiefs and the governor of the holy Circle; you are indeed the Great Cat.”

I am also a huge fan of the Impressionists and painter Renoir, who clearly had a love and appreciation for the feline form. He has a few wonderful paintings featuring cats but this is one of my personal favorites as it shows a particularly content looking kitty enjoying a cuddle, I imagine purring away. It’s also a scene that most cat owners can relate to,  however I do wonder how long the feline subject sat still during the prep work for this piece.

Cats, Art, History, Impressionism, Renoir, Julie Manet, Child with Cat

Pierre Auguste Renoir, Julie Manet also known as Child with cat (1887)

The cats of the Hermitage deserve a special mention as they have been guarding The State Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia from rats since 1745. These kitties are definitely one of my favorite cats in “art” even though their official role is in the history of the museum. They are quite famous, and while their roles as rat catchers has slightly changed over the years they have a following all their own. They are taken care of by volunteers and provided with food, attention, cat doors to and from the museum and vaccinations. Behind the scenes video of the Hermitage cats can be seen here.

cats,history, Russia, Hermitage museum, art

“Vaska the cat with antique statue” photographed in the museum yard – (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

Present day, we have the first cat art show in Los Angeles that happened early this year where over 60 artists exhibited works – pop culture meets cat. Artists paid tribute to cats using humor and real life characters which made for fun, colorful, interesting and beautiful works.

Anybody look familiar?

Marc Dennis, Cat, art show, los angeles, Snoop Dogg

Marc Dennis Gold Framed Portrait of a wide-eyed cat

So what about the future? Cat-tification of art seems to be a growing trend that thankfully is here to stay, and whether you prefer the “classic” or “modern” themes, or ones that merge the two, the future of art looks very bright and furry.

cats,  classical art, sisteen chapel, leonardo davinci

Famous paintings improved by cats




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