In Edouard Manet’s famed painting, Olympia, a black cat stands at the foot of the bed, its yellow eyes gleaming and its tail erect. The cat’s meaning is unclear. Does it symbolize the courtesan’s sexuality? Or is it an affectionate presence? Throughout history, cats have represented the unknown or the bizarre, embodying evil, superstition, mystery, and even, in Ancient Egypt, godliness. This virtual exhibition examines the feline’s ever-present role in art, in work from Géricault to Goya to a poster for Rodolphe Salis’s cabaret, Le Chat Noir. —E.C.
Universal Museum of Art 90 Rue de la Folie Méricourt, 75011 Paris, France Get Directions »