An interesting painting dated 1667 but the date is incorrect because the painter lived 1616-1661. It is said to have been painted between and
It appears to me that the peasant lady is feeding her cat in the exact same way that she would feed a baby at that time or from an earlier time. The cat is wrapped up in swaddling clothes. I have placed the painting next to one of the Madonna and Child.
What do we make of the painting? I would very much doubt that this is a literal representation although it gives the impression that it should be.
We can see that it almost mirrors the Madonna and Child painting over 300 years earlier. I wonder if there is a religious context. The swaddling clothes are very strange. They make a statement that the cat is being treated as a child. Spoon feeding supports that. There appears to be milk on the spoon.
This is a larger version:
David Ryckaert III was a Flemish painter born and brought up in Antwerp. He painted a range of different subjects including religious pictures. This may give a clue as to why the peasant woman is feeding her cat like Jesus. Is it Jesus? It is very strange to see Jesus depicted as a black and white domestic cat.
See more: Cats in Paintings.