Cats in Art


Egyptian Cartonage Fragment

Cats enjoy a special place in visual representation in many cultures as companions, subjects, and symbols. Cats appear in the ancient art of Egypt where cats were revered as gods. In this depiction, a cat has just killed a snake and is being appreciated for it’s predatory skills.

In some works of art they are featured as the main subject as in Ernst Ludwig Kirchner‘s Gray Cat on Cushion, or Chu Ling’s Seated Cat.

Gray Cat on a Cushion
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

Seated Cat
Chu Ling

Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuniga
Francisco Goya

Often cats are included as a symbolic element as part of a composition. In Francisco Goya‘s Don Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuniga, the cats lurk in the corner of the painting, threatening the bird while the child is unaware of the danger. Look carefully–how many cats do you see?

Sita and Sarita
Cecilia Beaux

Cats are depicted in relation to their humans as in Ceclia Beaux‘s Sita and Sarita, a portrait of both human and feline–who is Sarita and who is Sita is not clear as the companions are represented equally.

This post was inspired not only by my love of cats and art, but also by two excellent resources, Hooray for Cats by Welleran Poltarnees, and Metropolitan Cats by John P. O’Neill and Alvin Grossman.


3 responses »

  1. Pingback: Arty Cats | Art Is Not For Sissies

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