Cats in Art
Learning about cats in art has been a passion of mine lately. I’ve read books and articles on the subject, I’ve checked works of cat art, and I’ve visited websites devoted to cats and art.
Indeed, it seems like cats have always been a fertile source of inspiration for many an artist. Cats have appeared in art since ancient times, throughout different periods in history, all the way through modern times.
More recently, felines have appeared in film, television, and even musical theater. This article is a celebration of the cat in art. You will find several works inspired by cats, in different art media. This list comes in handy if you’re looking for a gift for cat lovers who also love art and literature.
Cats in art will be the delight of both cat lovers and art lovers.
Cats in Literature
I love learning about cats in art and literature. Indeed, cats have been the inspiration of many writers, playwrights, and poets. They have been portrayed as trusted companions, mystical creatures, mysterious characters, mischievous beasts, symbols of evil, loving angels, and much more.
Memorable feline characters include the Cheshire cat (the vanishing cat from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll), Crookshanks (Hermione’s cat in Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling), Ginger (from Ginger and Pickles by Beatrix Potter), Dinah (Alice’s Cat in Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll), and Figaro (Geppetto’s cat in Pinnochio).
And these are some of the tales in which cats have been the protagonists:
The Three Lives of Thomasina (by Paul Gallico), Skippyjon Jones (The award-winning children’s book by Judith Byron Schachner), The Cat in the Hat (the inventive cat tale by the beloved Dr. Seuss), and Puss in Boots (an European fairy tale, the best known version was penned by Charles Perrault).
Paintings, Drawings and Prints
Paintings of desert cats graced many Ancient Egyptian walls. Some of these works remain to this day. The felines portrayed in these paintings are believed to be the ancestors of the Egyptian Mau, a still rare but increasingly popular cat breed. Others believe that these paintings were representations of Bastet, the feline goddess of protection and fertility. Depictions of ancient cats have also been found in Central and South America.
Leonardo Da Vinci and Titian also painted cats. Leonardo’s watercolor wash Virgin and Child with Cat reveals the artist’s genius and his fondness of cats.
Certainly, cats big and small have been the subject matter of many cat paintings, including works by Pablo Picasso (of which Cat and Crab on the Beach (1965) is one of my favorites). Two well-known European cat paintings are Renoir's Julie Manet with Cat, and Edouard Manet's Woman with a Cat (La Femme au Chat).
You can also find cat prints by artists Eve Riser-Roberts, Tomoo Inagaki and Drew Strouble.
Cat statues and figurines are very popular these days. But sculptures depicting cats are nothing new. Statues of cats have been found in ancient archeological sites in Egypt and South America, among other places.
Statues depicting Bastet, the Egyptian cat goddess, have also been found. And let’s not forget the colossal Great Sphinx (also found in Egypt).
In Japan, Maneki Neko figurines are believed to bring good luck, and have been part of the Japanese culture for many centuries.
Nowadays, you can find a wide selection of cat-inspired statues, statuettes and figurines. Among the most popular are cat statues for the garden.
Cats in Art: Film, Theater and Television
Cats were born to be stars, as the works below demonstrate. Ah, those lucky cats...
Cats have also become stars of the silver screen. Who can forget Puss in Boots in Shrek II? Other “feline” movies include: The Cat from Outer Space (1978), That Darn Cat (of which there are two versions: one released in 1965 and the other in 1997), The Cat in the Hat (2003) and Garfield: The Movie (2004).
And of course, we have to mention Felix the Cat, the feline star of the silent era. For more information this topic, go to our Felix the Cat page. And for more on feline movies, you may find this article about cat movies interesting.
Cats were also immortalized on Broadway. Cats, the musical created by Andrew Lloyd Webber (and inspired by T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats), was one of the longest running shows on the Great White Way. And in Seussical the Musical, The Cat in the Hat plays the role of the narrator.
Cartoons like Sylvester the Cat, Tom and Jerry, and Felix the Cat became classics on the small screen. Another well-known TV cat is Salem, the black cat in the show Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.
Other forms of art
Cat photography and portraiture are also very popular among cat lovers. In addition, cats have also inspired decorative artists and craftspeople. For example, felines have graced ceramics and decorative plates.
Do you want to learn more about cats in art?
Then, you might find this book interesting:
--The Cat in Art by Stefano Zuffi and Simon Jones (Translator)
You might also want to check these:
--The Art of Animal Drawing: Construction, Action Analysis, Caricature by Ken Hultgren
--The Draw 50 Way: How to Draw Cats, Puppies, Horses, Buildings, Birds, Trees, Aliens, Boats,Trains and Everything Else under the Sun by Lee J. Ames
I hope you enjoyed reading about cats in art. And keep checking back as I will keep adding more information.
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