From May 23rd to September 10th, 2023 -
Musée d'Orsay
Cabinet d'arts graphiques
Salle 41, niveau 5
Map & itinerary
Théophile Alexandre Steinlen
Chat noir couché en boule sur un divan, 1920
Collection Musée d'Orsay - Département des Arts Graphiques du musée du Louvre, Paris
Don Colette Desormière, 1962
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d’Orsay)
See the notice of the artwork
Cats have been represented in art for as long as art has existed. In the 19th century, their importance is without equal. This exhibition, running from May 23 to September 10, 2023, brings together Édouard Manet, Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen and the contemporary artist Françoise Pétrovitch, with the presentation of a notebook of unprecedented drawings.

Following Paradis de Montcrif who published Les Chats in 1727, the art critic Champfleury devoted a book to small felines in 1868-69, Les Chats: histoire, mœurs, anecdotes. The book, illustrated with engraved drawings by Delacroix, Manet, Mérimée and Hokusai, was a great success. At the end of the century, the black cat gave its name and silhouette to the famous cabaret founded by Rodolphe Salis at the foot of Montmartre in 1881. It was no doubt named in tribute to the short story The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe and to its translator Charles Baudelaire, a champion of cats. It was also a reference to Paris, where stray and meowing felines abounded, especially at night. Intermediary between nature and culture, cats brings together opposites: wild and domestic, independent and cuddly, predator and gentle, they have real, symbolic and aesthetic qualities that capture the attention of illustrators. With their predilection for sleep, they offer the artist an immobile and accessible model. Their curved, aesthetic and linear beauty inspires the artistic gesture.


The exhibition is now over.

See the whole program

Exhibition artworks