Artists have included cats in their paintings since the ancient Egyptians. These influential 17th-20th century women artists all found inspiration in the elegant, mysterious and elusive cats who served as their muses and their models.
Judith Leyster - Dutch, 1609-1660
She was a leading 17th century painter who was successful and famous in her lifetime. She belonged to a group of courageous women who tried to break into the male-dominated art world. In 1633 she was allowed to join the previously male-only painters’ guild.
Sophie Gengembre Anderson - French, 1823-1903
Married to an English painter, she gained fame as a pre-Raphaelite painter and had a talent for painting children and animals.
Berthe Morisot - French, 1841-1895
As a woman, Morisot was not allowed to join art institutions, but was noticed and respected for her talent. She joined the Impressionists and exhibited with them. She continued to paint all her life but was never a commercial success.
Mary Cassatt - American, 1844-1926
Discouraged by society and her father from pursuing a career as a painter, she moved to France where she found success in the Impressionist movement.
Suzanne Valadon - French, 1865-1938
Daughter of a laundress, Valadon worked as a waitress, circus acrobat and model (posing for Toulouse-Lautrec and Renoir). Learning to paint by watching the Impressionists, she became a well-known, respected painter in her own right.
Paula Modersohn-Becker - German, 1876-1907
At the turn of the 20th century she was an influential avant-garde artist and an early German Expressionist. She was more interested in art than domesticity despite pressure from all sides to marry. She did marry, and died giving birth to her first child at age 31.