Cats in Art - 20th century, Part 1


Bonnard, 1903, Cat

In 1903, French artist Pierre Bonnard created a series of illustrations for Jules Renard's Histoires naturelles. This wry little cat is from that series.

[1903, Pierre Bonnard, Cat, brush and ink]

Bonnard is better known for his paintings, some of which resemble the works of the Impressionists although there are many dissimilarities. He was one of the few painters at the turn of the century to include cats in his work.

In this detail from The Terrasse Family, the family cat enjoys a social afternoon with his humans.

[1902-03, Pierre Bonnard, The Terrasse Family, oil on canvas]

Bonnard, 1902-03, The Terrasse Family

Picasso, 1905, The Bath
From his "Circus Period," Picasso's etching of the Harlequin's family at their bath includes the family's cat in the intimate boudoir scene. The tenderness displayed by the mother to her child is echoed by the cat's show of affection to his master.

[1905, Pablo Picasso, The Bath, etching]

Russian painter Marc Chagall painted a dream-like vision of Paris through the open window of his studio. His cat seems to sit on the edge between dream and reality.

[1913, Marc Chagall, Paris Through the Window, oil on canvas]

Chagall, 1913, Paris Through the Window

Sloan, 1914, Greenwich Village Backyards
The Ash Can School was a group of American painters devoted to commonplace subjects. They typically painted journalistic scenes of the city like this painting by John Sloan of children building a snowman in a Greenwich Village alley. One cat spies on the children while another simply huddles on the fence.

[1914, John Sloan, Greenwich Village Backyards, oil]

This detail from a hanging scroll shows a cat stalking a yellow butterfly. Painted in the first half of the 20th century by Chinese artist Hsii Pei-hung, it is graceful and dream-like in its portrayal of the hunt.

[20th century, Hsii Pei-hung, Cat and Yellow Butterfly, ink and colors on paper]

Hsii Pei-hung, 20th century, Cat and Yellow Butterfly