10 cute cats in classic art
The internet craze for cute cats isn't a new thing - they've been appearing in classic art for centuries
The internet is stuffed full of pictures and videos of cute cats. We've all wasted a hour or two in our time watching their hilarious antics, whether we like to admit it or not.
Yet, this isn't a new obsession. For centuries, cats have been immortalised in the artworks of some of the world's greatest artists, starting with the Egyptians, who worshipped them as furry-faced deities.
Here's the top 10 cute cats in classic art for the procrastinators out there. If anyone asks, you're studying high art, not wasting time!
**10. Pablo Picasso
Cat catching a bird
Probably the least cute cat we have ever seen, Cat catching a bird is symbolic of the era in which it was painted. The Spanish civil war was turning in Franco's favour, and Hitler was making headway all across Europe.
That's not to mention the fact that Picasso's mother had just died.
Picasso himself said of the composition, which he painted in two different versions, "The subject obsessed me, I don't know why."
That's because we're all obsessed with cats Picasso, they just have that effect on humans.
9. Louis Wain
Probably the most cat obsessed artist of them all, Louis Wain painted almost nothing but cats, which would prove his downfall in years to come.
Starting out with illustrations of cutesy cats getting up to no good, Wain later developed schizophrenia (thought to have been caused by toxic chemicals in cat poop, or possibly his experiments with drugs) and his paintings took a bizarre turn.
With increasingly bright colours and elaborate designs as shown above, the cats in Wain's art began to reflect his mental state, becoming almost unrecognisable over time.
HG Wells said of Wain: "He has made the cat his own. He invented a cat style, a cat society, a whole cat world. English cats that do not look and live like Louis Wain cats are ashamed of themselves."
**8. Pierre-August Renoir
Woman with Cat
Renoir, one of the most famous impressionist artists of all, had two major obsessions in life, women and cats.
And it is his works that combine the two major passions of his life that stand out from the crowd. There is something incredibly soothing about the image of a beautiful woman holding a cat, and Renoir knew this all too well.
**6 Abraham Teniers
Barber Shop with Monkeys and Cats
C M Coolidge's Dogs Playing Poker may be more famous, but Tenier's Barber Shop with Monkey and Cats came centuries before.
Teniers was a Flemish artist in the 17th century, famous for his scenes of monkeys, but it is the cats that make this painting wonderful.
That said, we find it hard to believe that cats would ever associate with troublesome monkeys, never mind get their hair cut by one!
**5. Salvador Dali/Philippe Halsman
Dali liked cats so much that he went one step further and bought himself a pet ocelot, called Babou, who he took with him on his travels across the world.
Sadly, we cannot say the cats in this photo, titled Dali Atomicus, are having such a great time as Babou. Doused in water before being launched across the room by photographer Philip Halsman's assistants, they were almost certainly a little peeved following the 28 attempts it took to get the photo just right.
Thankfully, it's common knowledge that cats land on their feet, so hopefully none were harmed in the name of art.
**4. William Holman Hunt
The Awakening Conscience **
Can you spot the crafty cat in this one?
It's not obvious at first, but the cat is actually an important symbol in this painting by one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
With the painting showing a mistress and her lover, the cat plays with a dead bird under a table, symbolising the mistresses' status as a plaything for the domineering man.
**3. Hieronymous Bosch
The Garden of Earthly Delights **
One of the most famous paintings of all-time, Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights is a depiction of the garden that Adam and Eve were given by God, before greedy Eve chomped that apple and ruined it for all of us.
Painted in 1503-1504, the triptych depicts all that the garden has to offer. And what garden would be complete without the odd cat or two?
Take a look at the right hand panel and you'll see our furry friend carrying off a mouse, and looking very content with his catch too.
And that's not the only cat in the drawing, with Bosch providing an early "Where's Wally" style game for cat lovers.
**2. George Baselitz
It seems that Baselitz has painted every cat's dream in this painting, with the human-bodied feline finally able to dominate the smaller dog.
The work actually symbolises conflict between the artistic ideals of East and West Germany, but we're content to give the cat his moment, even if it has to adopt a human body to get there.
**1. John Tenniel
The Cheshire Cat
Is he the most famous cat of all?
The grinning Cheshire Cat was first made famous in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in 1865, but his origins are much older; in 1788's "A classical dictionary of the vulgar tongue", one entry reads:
"CHESHIRE CAT. He grins like a Cheshire cat; said of any one who shows his teeth and gums in laughing."
The phrase is thought to originate from the county of Cheshire, UK, which was famed for its dairy farms. The cat's grin is presumably the result of his easy access to milk, cheese and cream, so he is literally "the cat that got the cream".
Sculptures of grinning cats were created as early as the 16th century and it is these that are said to have inspired Carroll, but (aside from the Disney version) it is John Tenniel's original illustration for the book that has become the best known of all.
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