Woman with a Cat Pierre-Auguste Renoir Buy Art Prints Now
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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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Auguste Renoir (or, to give his birth name, Pierre-Auguste Renoir) was a French painter who lived between 1841 and 1919.

He remains very well known for his Impressionist art works, which used soft and dreamlike combinations of colours to create a very imaginative effect. His painting Woman with a Cat is a key example of French Impressionism.

Woman with a Cat was painted in 1875 using the medium of oil on canvas, and it is classed as an Impressionist work. It is easy to see why. Impressionist art works favoured bold colours over details - indeed this is one of the definitive aspects of Impressionism.

Woman with a Cat uses plenty of vivid hues, but looking at the embroidery in the background of the painting (for example) we cannot pick out a detailed pattern.

Nevertheless, though that it is not sharply 'detailed', Woman with a Cat does not give the impression of being broad or vague. Everything is painted with a careful, fine tuned attention and there is a real sense of personality in both the female subject of the painting and the cat that she is holding. This is because another very important aspect of Impressionism is a careful attention to the quality of light, and to creating form.

Many of Renoir's paintings depict domestic interiors, and Woman with a Cat is no different. There is so often a sense of warmth and safety imbuing his paintings and they tend to give a sense of comfortable bourgeoise life in France in the latter half of the nineteenth century.

Many of Renoir's paintings depict female sitters, and Woman with a Cat is most certainly not his only painting depicting a cat - of which there are several. In 1862, for instance, over a decade before he completed Woman with a Cat, Renoir painted a picture called Sleeping Cat.

In this painting the cat really is the star. And, intriguingly, the cat in Sleeping Cat could well be the twin (or perhaps the grandparent) of the cat that is featured in Woman with a Cat. In 1887, Renoir would return to this theme of a feline and a female sitter in his picture entitled Julie Manet With A Cat, demonstrating his friendship with another great Impressionist: Manet.