Cats in Art History: Paintings You’ll Really Like

Either you hate them, or you love them; cats are downright amazing. They are one of the most admired and popular house pets that entertain everyone with their antics and mischievous nature. Their super adorable faces, mischievous looks, and charming purrs give us a great reason to admire them.

Cats’ history with humankind dates back to the time of Egyptian civilization. These fascinating felines have been celebrated for their grace, poise, and independent dispositions throughout history.

Considering their beauty and significance, throughout the time, it is absolutely no wonder cats and kittens are popular subjects of artists. And, of course, they do make some amazing paintings. In today’s article, we will look into five of the best cat paintings in art history that you will surely like.

Portrait of Mademoiselle Julie Monet with a Cat – Pierre Auguste Renoir
Image from 1st-art-gallery

5 cat paintings in art history

Portrait of Mademoiselle Julie Monet with a Cat – Pierre Auguste Renoir

A masterpiece of a painting by Pierre Auguste Renoir, Portrait of Mademoiselle Julie Monet with a Cat, demonstrates the simple pleasures of life. Renoir has crafted many paintings with cats as the subject, but none so brilliant and highly praised as this particular painting.

What makes this painting stand out among Renoir’s works is the amount of research Renoir did for the picture. The meticulous research that went into the making of this lovely cat painting has resulted in striking color combinations and a perfect sitting position for the girl.

 The painting was commissioned by Edouard Manet himself, and the girl in the painting is Manet’s niece. Initially, the painting was supposed to be a portrait of Manet’s niece only; however, Renoir made a cute addition to the painting, in the form of the cat, which was surely worth applauding.

Image from 1st-art-gallery

Cats – Franz Marc

German artist Franz Marc was one of the key figures of the German Expressionist Movement. Franc’s paintings of cats mostly featured the portraits of the felines in their natural state – mostly sleeping and grooming.

Marc spent countless hours at the zoo, sketching and studying the forms of animals. This research of his makes all of his animal paintings amazing and fascinating. In this particular painting of Franz Marc, the artist portrays two cats sleeping peacefully on a lawn which is among one of the most famous cat paintings.

Besides the unlimited amount of research that Franz Marc could perform, he was also equally brilliant with colors. He believed that colors were attached with deep emotions and had an approach of symbolism.

The painting features the primary colors with great meanings associated with them – blue meaning masculinity, yellow referring to feminine, and red signifying the cruel world.

cats in art Old Woman with Cat – Max Liebermann
Image from 1st-art-gallery

Old Woman with Cat – Max Liebermann

The realism movement in art history emerged in the 1840s. Several artists, including Gustave Courbet and Jean-Francois Millet, were the pioneer painters during this era of the art movement. Among them, German artist Max Liebermann was one artist whose work challenged artistic tradition, of painting rich and nobility.

Old Woman with Cat features an elderly woman sitting in a chair, holding a black cat, in a quiet and contemplative moment. The richly colored skirt of the woman and striking black furs of the cat tends to attract the viewers directly towards it.

Besides the color and composition of the painting, the casual pose with the head bowing to one side looks as if the woman is talking to the cat that is affectionately lying on her lap.

Max Liebermann has used a rougher painting style with brushstrokes that are clearly visible on the canvas. Therefore, many critics have often called the artist a “painter of filth.” However, it is worth noting that Liebermann omitted the actual signs of poverty – in this painting as well.

Le Chat Noir – Theophile Steinlen cats in art
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Le Chat Noir – Theophile Steinlen

Le Chat Noir, which translates in French to “The Black Cat,” is an advertisement poster created by Theophile Steinlen. The artwork was commissioned by the nightclub of the same name for its advertisement campaign.

Established in the nineteenth century in the bohemian Montmartre district in Paris, the club is considered to be the first modern cabaret. People would often come to the place for alcoholic beverages while being entertained by various on-stage shows.

The club even published a weekly magazine with the same name. It featured poetries, literary writings, and even political satire. While the club has been long gone, the poster remains to be an iconic image and a huge sensation even today.

Raminou Sitting on a Cloth – Suzanne Valadon
Image from 1st-art-gallery

Raminou Sitting on a Cloth – Suzanne Valadon

French artist Suzanne Valadon became the first woman painter admitted to the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in 1984. Noted for strong composition and vibrant colors, Suzanne specialized in creating paintings of still lifes, flowers, and landscapes.

On the contrary, she was also known for her candid female nudes. Her painting depicted womens’ bodies from the perspective of a woman, which was largely appreciated and applauded by art-lovers and critics, as well.

An avid cat lover, Suzanne herself had a cat as her pet – the fat Raminou. The painting features the artist’s beloved cat sitting on a cloth. As with her other paintings, Raminou sitting on a cloth features a vibrant color composition – Suzanne’s signature.

The Bottom Line

These paintings are, without a doubt, some of the most famous cat paintings in art history. The reproductions of these amazing paintings can be bought from the 1st Art Gallery. At the gallery, their in-house artists have mastered the art of creating the perfect reproduction works of popular paintings, like the above.


1 Comment

  1. February 26, 2022 / 11:45 pm

    Oh I love cats I had to give mine recently because I am moving into an apartment that does not allow pets. It was tough. And I just loved this history lesson. Thanks for sharing and informing us!

    Allie of

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