Looking at paintings is one of a series of books designed to present many different painters' views of a single subject. Each painting is expected to tell us something about what great artists see when they paint. Artists have transformed their visions of cats into images of fantasy, images of power and images of happiness. In this book about cats the author leads the reader on a personal gallery tour of 19 favourite paintings of cats. From an American folk artists straightforward portrait of a family pet to Picasso's symbolic image which warns of the destructive force of a mad dictator each artists vision and depiction of cats is unique. 5,000 years ago the ancient Egyptians worshipped the cat as a god. Since that time, painters have been fascinated by the mysterious qualities of this animal - its keen vision, skill as a hunter and fierce independence; its cleanliness, graceful body and its affection for people. Some artists have created images of cats as heroic or destructive historical figures. Others have captured the graceful charm or sly humour of a cherished family pet. In many cultures, the cat has been a symbol of fertility, motherhood and good harvests.
But in medieval Europe, cats were thought to be demons and thousands of them were burned to death. By looking at the paintings of cats in this book, we can see how painters feel about these animals.