Oil Paintings of Cats Stealing Food Throughout Art History

Some curious cats need to know what you’re having for dinner. They jump onto the table when you're not looking and try to steal a bit of whatever you’ve got on your plate. Although this might seem like it only happens in modern times, one Twitter account called Cats of Yore points out that felines have always been mischievous. For proof, just look at art history.

The Cats of Yore account was created by Molly Hodgdon, and she posted a thread in which kitties are whetting their appetites with human food. “One of my favorite sub-genres of art is Cats Stealing Food in Still Life Paintings,” she writes in the first tweet. “It’s so wonderfully disrespectful. So here is a thread celebrating the need for snacks triumphing over art.”

Over the course of nine paintings, nearly all of them from the 17th and 18th centuries, she shares pictures of cats at the height of their naughtiness. The paintings show them swiping sausage and being caught with whole fish in their mouths. In one piece, the cat is deciding if it’s worth pawing an entire tray of oysters.

Each artwork is rendered with sincerity, as if the artist doesn't see the inherent humor of cats stealing food; it's this seriousness that makes the pieces so amusing in the first place. The tweet thread also teaches an enduring lesson. No matter how beautiful a spread is, cats simply do not care—especially if it means getting a tasty treat.

Think that cats stealing human food only happens today? One Twitter thread is showing that no, kitties have been mischievous throughout the centuries.

Art history is proof that cats do not care about a beautiful spread…

…as long as they can get a tasty treat.

Cats of Yore: Twitter
h/t: [Neatorama]

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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