10 Coolest Cats in Art History

Whether you're a dog or a cat person, enjoy these purr-fect artworks from Renoir, Manet, and more

By Google Arts & Culture

White Angora Cat Chasing a Butterfly (circa 1761) by Jean-Jacques BachelierRmn-Grand Palais

1. Jean-Jacques Bachelier, White Angora Cat, 1761

First up is this fancy number by Jean-Jacques Bachelier, inventor and master ceramicist at the Sèvres porcelain works, he also had a line in painting pets and still lifes.

This fluffy White Angora wouldn't look out of place next to set of fine china.

Two Children Teasing a Cat Two Children Teasing a Cat (1587/1588) by Annibale CarracciThe Metropolitan Museum of Art

2. Annibale Carracci, Two Children Teasing a Cat, 1588

Before You've Been Framed, the only way people could watch cats pushed to their limit was in paintings like Annibale Caracchi's 1588 Two Children Teasing a Cat

Needless to say, do not do this at home. We all know what happens next. You'll probably come off worse than the cat…

Julie Manet (1887) by Auguste RenoirMusée d’Orsay, Paris

3. Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Child with Cat (Julie Manet), 1887

This is a bit more peaceful! This sugar-coated painting by Renoir shows Julie Manet, the young daughter of fellow artists Edouard Manet and Berthe Morisot, and her beloved kitten.

Its refined finish and glossy surface marked a distinct change in direction for the Impressionist painter.

A Cat Curled Up, Sleeping A Cat Curled Up, Sleeping (1861) by Édouard ManetThe Metropolitan Museum of Art

4. Edouard Manet, A Cat Curled Up, Sleeping, 1861

A few small pencil strokes for a small cat!

Manet shows his powers of observation by using just a few marks to create the form of this cute little guy.

The Artist's Studio, a real allegory summing up seven years of my artistic and moral life Between 1854 and 1855 (1854/1855) by Gustave CourbetMusée d’Orsay, Paris

5. Gustave Courbet, The Painter's Studio, 1855

In at 5, "The world comes to be painted at my studio," said Courbet of this enigmatic 'real allegory summing up seven years of my artistic and moral life'. The accomplished artist represents many different figures from history and fantasy, all of whom he found inspiration in…

…and he didn't forget the cat!

Cat Asleep (17th century) by Cornelis de VisscherDavison Art Center, Wesleyan University

6. Cornelis Visscher, The Large Cat, 1657

When the cat's away…

…the mice will play!

Laziness (1896) by Félix VallottonKunsthalle Bremen

7. Felix Valloton, Laziness, 1896

We could all learn a lot from our feline friends, especially how to let go and let it all hang out. The Swiss-French artist Félix Valloton knows there's nothing better than simply lying around.

This picture might show the dog days of summer, but it's the domain of the cat.

Black Cat and Tomato Plant (1931) by Takahashi HiroakiThe Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

8. Takahashi Hiroaki, Black Cat and Tomato Plant, 1931

Who knocked over my tomatoes? Probably since the invention of agriculture and architecture, cats have found ways to knock houseplants over.

Takahashi Hiroaki captures that cursed curiosity in this traditional Japanese woodblock print.

Tournée du Chat Noir de Rodolphe Salis (Tour of Rodolphe Salis' Chat Noir) (1896) by Théophile-Alexandre SteinlenZimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University

9. Théophile Steinlen, La tournée du Chat Noir, 1896

The whole of fin-de-siecle Paris - the bars, the dances, the absinthe, the scandal - are summed up in this iconic poster.

The penetrating gaze of the eponymous black cat seems to say, "I know what you did at the Moulin Rouge"!

Black Cat Auditions In Hollywood (1961) by Ralph CraneLIFE Photo Collection

10. Ralph Crane, Black Cat Auditions in Hollywood, 1961

What's cooler than a cat? A celebrity cat wearing sunglasses. In 1961, LIFE magazine photographer Ralph Crane went along to the Hollywood Studios to snap the black cats auditioning for the movie Tales of Terror. 

Black Cat Auditions In Hollywood (1961) by Ralph CraneLIFE Photo Collection

If you ask me, they all look purrfect.

Black Cat Auditions In Hollywood (1961-11) by Ralph CraneLIFE Photo Collection

Why not go back to where it all began with cats and art by exploring the Chauvet cave paintings?

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