Cats in Art - 19th century


Kuniyoshi, 19th century, Cat and Goldfish
This woodcut by Japanese artist Kuniyoshi Kitagawa entitled Cat and Goldfish is from the series Kingyo Zukushi (Goldfish Story). Although cartoon-like in its execution, this woodcut captures the reality of the cat and goldfish relationship.

[19th century, Kuniyoshi, Cat and Goldfish, woodcut]

A silk painting by Japanese artist Toko portrays the cat contemplating another perennial adversary.
[19th century, Toko, Cat,ink and colors on silk]
Toko, 19th century, Cat

1850, Sleeping Cat

Fat and contented, this meditative cat seems oblivious to any adversaries in the world around him.

[c. 1850, Japanese, Sleeping Cat, watercolor]

Part of the series One Hundred Views of Edo, this color woodblock print is by the Japanese artist Hiroshige Utagawa, a great master of woodblock art. Bobtail cats were thought by the Japanese to bring good luck.

[1858, Hiroshige, Cat In A Window, woodblock]

Hiroshige, 1858, Cat In A Window

Manet, 1868, Olympia
Manet's etching, Olympia, is a free translation of his famous painting which shocked the academic art world in 1865. This etching was the frontispiece in a pamphlet published in 1868 by the famed writer and art critic Émile Zola to defend Manet's art. In the original painting, Olympia's little black cat almost recedes into the background. In the etching, however, the cat is easily noticed.

[1865, Édouard Manet, Olympia, etching]

Renoir, 1867, Julie Manet With Cat Renoir was apparently fond of cats and included many in his paintings. Julie Manet was the daughter of Berthe Morisot and the niece of Édouard Manet, both of whom were members, like Renoir, of the Impressionist school.

[1867, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Julie Manet With Cat, painting]

Lithography emerged in the late 19th century as a favorite graphic arts medium for advertising. This poster advertises pure, sterilized milk and features the artwork of Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen, well-known for his illustrations of cats.

[1894, Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen, Lait pur Stérilisé, lithograph]

Steinlen, 1894, Lait pur Sterilise

Vallotton, 1896, Laziness
Swiss artist Félix Vallotton pays homage to the quest for the exotic that was prevalent in the late 19th century. The cat in this woodcut is an important compositional element, completing the strong white diagonal that begins in the bent arm of his human and adding energy to the languor of the subject matter.

[1896, Félix Vallotton, La Paresse (Laziness), woodcut]

This painting by Paul Gauguin is sometimes referred to as A Tahitian Interior, but the artist named it Eiaha Ohipa which means "doing nothing" in the language of Tahiti. And is there anyone who can do nothing better than a cat?

[1896, Paul Gauguin, Eiaha Ohipa, painting]

Gauguin, 1896, Eiaha Ohipa