Mediaeval cat paintings: ugly anthropomorphized depictions

I’ve seen this before. It appears that painters in mediaeval times had a compulsion to depict both domestic and wild cats with human faces. Not only that, the faces are ugly. Almost every painting looks like a cat cartoon and the cat is anthropomorphised.

I’m not sure whether it was deliberate to depict cats in a cartoonish manner or whether painters at this time lacked the skill to create an accurate rendition of the domestic cat.

Although, I have seen anthropomorphized wild cat depictions which are meant to be accurate so my impression is that painters of his era were fixated on human anatomy and unable to depict animal anatomy without putting some human characteristics within the painting. This is surprising because there are many good paintings of humans.

The last painting in this list is of a cat and her owner it seems. Both are painted fairly accurately indicating that the other cat paintings were meant to be ugly, anthropomorphized cat monsters.

Medieval times was an era when the domestic cat was denigrated. There was the black cats association with witchcraft for example. There must have been many cat lovers in that era but also a brutish attitude towards animals in general which spilled over to domestic cats and their depictions in paintings.

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About Michael Broad

Michael is retired! He retired at age 57 and at Aug 2018 is approaching 70. He worked in many jobs. The last job he did was as a solicitor practicing general law. He loves animals and is passionate about animal welfare. He also loves photography and nature. He hates animal abuse. He has owned and managed this site since 2007. There are around 13k pages so please use the custom search facility!

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