Cats have never been short of admirers, and the world’s greatest artists have often paid tribute to the feline form. The department of Egyptian antiquities at the Louvre abounds in representations of the cat-goddess Bastet. Likewise, the cat has a much-felt presence in the museum’s collection of paintings, sitting with aristocratic ladies in intimate domestic scenes such as those depicted by Boilly or Fragonard, or showing their mischievous nature, such as the cat sprawled on the sumptuously laid table in Chardin’s La Raie. This beautiful volume is packed with artworks from all of the Louvre’s many departments. Each painting or sculpture is shown in its entirety and in detail, focusing on the feline presence. The artworks are accompanied by a short, illuminating commentary, and introduced by a preface in which the author draws upon his personal reflections on the irresistible cat. Cats in the Louvre provides a delightfully unusual tour through the most visited gallery in the world, and invites the reader to engage in a fresh way with some of the perennially inspiring themes of the works housed there. Art lovers will see the works in a new light, and cat lovers will simply be enchanted.
Frederic Vitoux, a member of the prestigious Academie francaise and a literary and film critic for Le Nouvel Observateur, is both a novelist and essayist. He is the author of Living in Venice (Flammarion, 2007). Elisabeth Foucart-Walter is Chief Curator of the Painting Department at the Louvre. She co-wrote Painted Cat (Rizzoli, 1988), with Pierre Rosenberg.