Cats in Art History

July 7, 2018

From Ancient Egyptian statues to modern times painting, discover the many faces and various personalities of our favourite felines !

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UMA presents our fourth exhibition in virtual reality, dedicated to a theme that will delight all kinds of audiences: cats! Within the rich rooms of a private mansion, with modelized décors ranging from neoclassical halls to welcoming boudoirs, follow the guide: in every artwork there is a cat – hidden or obvious, small or big. The cat has always been a favourite subject of artistic representation, from Ancient Egyptian statues to modern photography. The animal’s symbolism is fluctuating. If religious painting likened the cat to Satan himself, the small feline was worshipped as a benevolent mother-like divinity in Ancient Egypt: Bastet. A familiar presence within artists’ studios, the cat came to embody the painter’s spirit of freedom and independence. It is also frequently seen in portraits of young girls or women, where the feline adds a scandalous dimension, as in Edouard Manet’s famous ‘Olympia’. Object of adoration? of superstition? Fearsome predator or cuddly companion? Black or Angora cats, shabby or luxurious cats… The little feline possesses a personality as layered and complex as the illustrious palettes that have taken him for a model. UMA invites you to discover the most striking cats in art history, based on an original idea by the Réunion des Musées Nationaux-Grand Palais.