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A Journey Through the History of Cat Depictions

Cats have been a popular subject for artists throughout history, with some of the earliest known depictions of cats dating back to ancient Egypt, where they were worshipped as sacred animals. In Western art, cats first began to appear in paintings during the Renaissance, where they were often portrayed in domestic settings, playing with their owners or stalking mice.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, cats became a popular subject for artists such as Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin and Louis-Eugène Lambert. These artists often portrayed cats as playful and mischievous creatures, playing with balls of yarn or batting at butterflies. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Art Nouveau movement popularized depictions of cats with sleek, flowing lines and intricate patterns. Artists such as Alphonse Mucha and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec incorporated cats into their decorative designs, often portraying them in a stylized, almost abstract manner.

In the modern era, cats continue to be a popular subject for artists, with many contemporary artists creating playful and whimsical depictions of cats in a variety of styles and media. From realistic oil paintings to cartoonish illustrations, cats remain an enduring source of inspiration for artists around the world.

Items were collected from the following institutions: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum, The Cleveland Museum of Art, and the National Museum of Korea 

Controlled Vocabulary:

Subject: Library of Congress: Subject Headings- to facilitate the uniform access and retrieval of items in a collection. 

Spatial Coverage (Place): The Getty: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names - to consistently define a place of origin and geographic information.

Creator: The Getty: Union List of Artist Names - to link an authoritative database to the name of the artist. 

Dublin Core Elements:

Identifier: The accession number provided by the specific museum’s collection.

Title: Title of the item provided by the museum.

Date: Date provided by the museum collection.

Description: Physical description provided by the museum.

Medium: The material used to make the object.

Provenance: The previous owners of the object, provided by the museum’s collection.

Rights: the online accessibility of each object, copyright information.

Relation: Reference to a related resource.

Spatial Coverage: The location the item originated from.

Subject: Covers what this item is and the essence of the item.