CATS and DOGS in Art generally depict our faithful pets as faithful and loving companions.
Artists also used CATS and DOGS in Art as metaphors in religious and allegorical scenes. Typically, dogs symbolized loyalty while cats represented deceit.
Popular literature such as fables featured canine and feline characters, often conveying a moralizing message through talking beasts that mimicked human actions.
Artists also used cats and dogs in art as metaphors in religious and allegorical scenes. Typically, dogs symbolized loyalty while cats represented deceit; together, these foils embodied good versus evil. Yet due to the layering of iconographic meaning onto each creature over many centuries, we find cats and dogs variously represented as friend or foe, sacred or sinful, regal or scrappy. It was for the artist to choose from a bevy of specific, diverse meanings what applied to the pets they portrayed.
Cats – From the Egyptian cat goddess Bastet to modern fanciful felines, cats symbolize mystery, intuition, cleverness, and independence.
Dogs – Like cats, dogs have been with humankind for thousands of years as allies and protectors. They represent loyalty, nobility, service, and trustworthiness.
Example: Dogs have often been used as symbols of fidelity, faithfulness, protection, wealth, and unconditional love. You can see examples of it as far back as the Egyptian deity Anubis, of the Early Dynastic period, donning the head of a jackal on the body of a man.
Leonardo da Vinci, keen observer of the natural world and major cat lover, said, “The smallest feline is a masterpiece.” Cats and dogs were as familiar in early modern Europe as they are today, providing in-house models and muses for artists.