Why paint a cat? It is art already.
— Wieland Grant
From the time of the ancient Egyptians, through the classical period and the Middle Ages, and right up to the present day, the common house cat (Felis catus) has been a constant object of attraction, mystery, and fascination for humanity. And throughout history, artists and craftspeople have expressed that fascination in every form of art—in sculpture, mosaics, drawings, paintings, and more.
In honor of “National Respect Your Cat Day” (March 28), we present here a collage of nine of our favorite renderings of cats in art across time.
- Birth of the Virgin (detail)
Anonymous (Venetian School, 1480)
- Cat Goddess Bastet with Kittens
Anonymous (Egyptian, Late Period)
Takeuchi Seiho (Japanese, 1864–1942)
- Hibiscus and Rocks (detail)
Anonymous (Sung Dynasty, 12th century)
- Cat Clawing a Turkey/Cat and Ducks
Roman Mosaic from the House of the Faun, Pompeii (ca. 79 A.D.)
- Cat Sleeping
Federico Barocci (Italian, 1526–1612)
- Laughing Children with a Cat
Judith Leyster (Dutch, 1609–1660)
- Cat Stalking a Butterfly
John Woodhouse Audubon (American, 1812–1862)
- White Cat
M.C. Escher (Dutch, 1898–1972)