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The Ringling News

23 January 2024

Divine Felines: The Cat in Japanese Art – Now Available!

by The Ringling

Takahashi Hiroaki (Shōtei) 1871–1945. Tama the Cat, 1924. Published by Watanabe Shōzaburō. Woodblock print, ink and color on paper, 101/4 x 1315/16 in (26 x 35.5 cm). Image courtesy of Egenolf Gallery.


This delightful book, Divine Felines: The Cat in Japanese Art, will appeal to anyone with an interest in Japanese art and culture, plus of course to all cat lovers! It is published by Tuttle, and available for purchase in The Ringling Museum Store.

In 200 charming woodblock prints, paintings, screens and figurines spanning three centuries, Japanese art expert Rhiannon Paget celebrates the rich symbolism and surprising stories surrounding the feline image in Japan.

This collection features works from over 30 museums and institutions across the world, and contains essays on fascinating topics including  Domestic Companion or Household God?, The Feline Muse, Lucky Cats, Mischief and Mayhem, and Philosophers’ Cats, Teachers’ Pets and Moggies with Messages.

About the Author:
Rhiannon Paget is the curator of Asian Art at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida. She received her doctorate from the University of Sydney and has published research on Japanese prints, paintings, textiles and popular visual culture as well as curating numerous exhibitions, including Saito Kiyoshi: Graphic Awakening, in 2021.


This book accompanies the small exhibition The Feline Muse: Cats in Japanese Art now on view through April 14, 2025 in the Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Gallery. The exhibition, encompassing woodblock prints, paintings, lacquerware, ceramics, and metalwork, introduces the feline subject in Japanese art from the early nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. Highlights include Ban’ura Shōgo’s (1901–1982) lacquer box in the form of a cat, a superb example of Art Deco design, and Ōgaki Shōkun’s (1865–1937) serving tray painted with a kitten napping on a Buddhist sutra, a recent acquisition on view for the first time. Visitors will also see modernist prints by Saitō Kiyoshi (1907–1997), Sekino Jun’ichirō (1914–1988), and Inagaki Tomoo (1902–1980).