In the ancient mists of time known as 2012, word of a site featuring paintings by famous artists ÔÇô with a fat orange cat Photoshopped in — took the world by storm. The Famous Paintings Improved By Cats gallery is still fun, but there are plenty of real art works that are close to purr-fection because, well, they already have cats in them. Here are some of my favorites through history.
1. "War Between Cats and Mice," artists unknown
This is a fresco at the St. John the Evangelist Chapel in P├╝rgg, Austria, and was painted circa 1180 by artists whose names are lost to time.
2. "Study Sheet of Cats, Dragon, and Other Animals" by Leonardo da Vinci
Da Vinci is best known for the Mona Lisa, the Vitruvian Man, and scientific knowledge that seemed centuries ahead of his time. But he also loved animals: he bought birds from vendors and set them free. He was even a vegetarian — maybe the first Westerner to be a vegetarian because of his compassion toward animals. This study was drawn around 1513.
3. "Portrait of a Young Lady Holding a Cat" by Francesco Bachiacca
Bachiacca, known formally as Francesco d’Ubertino Verdi, was an Italian Renaissance painter. This beautiful piece has been dated to the 16th century.
4. "Woman With a Cat" by ├ëdouard Manet
Manet drew this pastel piece late in his career, around 1880. He is best known for his paintings "Luncheon on the Grass" and "Olympia," and he was a key figure in the birth of the artistic movement known as impressionism.
5. "Aprole Douner" by Henri├½tte Ronner-Knip
Ronner-Knip was a Dutch painter who lived from 1821-1909. She was best known for her paintings of subjects from nature, especially cats and dogs.
6. "Children Playing With a Cat" by Mary Cassatt
Cassatt was an American painter who spent most of her adult life in France, where she befriended Impressionist luminaries like Edgar Degas and began exhibiting with them. Art critic Gustave Geffroy described her as one of the three grand dames of Impressionism, along with Berthe Morisot and Marie Bracquemond. This oil painting is dated to 1908.
7. "Two Cats, Blue and Yellow" by Franz Marc
Marc, a painter and printmaker, was one of the key figures of the German Expressionist movement. The colors he used were deliberately chosen to reflect an emotional meaning or purpose: blue was used to portray masculinity and spirituality, yellow represented feminine joy, and red encased the sound of violence. So, what do you think this 1912 oil painting meant to Marc?
8. "Cat and Bird" by Paul Klee
Klee, a German-Swiss painter, had a style influenced by the art movements of expressionism, cubism and surrealism. He and Russian painter Wasily Kandinsky taught at the famous Bauhaus school of art, design and architecture. He painted this piece in 1928, during his Bauhaus years.
The world is full of great feline art by famous artists including Modigliani, Warhol, Kahlo, and Picasso — and, of course, the incredible works created by today’s artists who use their talent to share their love of cats. Out of respect for artists’ intellectual property, I’ve only shared works that are currently in the public domain. I encourage you to dig deeper into the world of feline art, maybe through books like The Cat: 3500 Years of the Cat in Art or The Cat in ArtÔÇª both of which are going on my holiday wish list!
About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal shelter volunteer, professional cat sitter, and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing their award-winning cat advice blog, Paws and Effect, since 2003.