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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Henri Rousseau used cats in various paintings, with this artwork being completed in 1863 (estimated), when the artist was still in his teens.

The side-on portrait places the cat on a small table, covered by a bright red cloth. In the background is a plain white curtain which aims to complete the work but without leading the eye away from the cat. The Tabby, as this painting is also sometimes known, features a charming use of expressive artistic style. The perspective is not quite right, and the limbs of the cat are clearly out of proportion. These "errors" were most likely deliberate and help to add a sense of charm to the animal.

Many art fans will immediately be reminded of the abstract animals from Pablo Picasso's career. He also captured many domestic pets, some of whom lived with him in a number of different properties across France. Sadly, there is much less information available on this painting in order to be aware of just who's cat it was. Even the date that we have provided for it is somewhat uncertain.

It is paintings such as this which best highlight the link between modern art and that of children, something which initially led to these new styles being completely dismissed by academics. It was only later that expressive art was understood and respected, that artists were choosing to paint like this rather than being forced to out of a lack of technical ability.