Good Morning, These Tsarist-Style Cat Portraits Are Perfect, How Are You?
11:15 am, August 15th | by Colette McIntyre
With over three million works of art in its collection, Russia’s State Hermitage Museum is the largest museum in the world. When you have that many watercolor portraits of the imperial family and da Vinci’s Madonna with a Flower in your possession, maintaing order with a few kind-eyed codgers who have bum knees and some spare time after retirement — say, after their weekly bridge game and before they have to pick up their youngest granddaughter from the bus stop; ya know, ever since their Caddy returned to the workforce… — simply isn’t enough! There are paintings by fucking Caravaggio at stake here! These aren’t some paint-by-numbers decorating your Memaw’s fridge! So, knowing the vitality of preservation, the museum keeps a staff of sixty-five stray cat security guards; it is their job to kill vermin and protect the artwork from harm.
Before you laugh and mock them with your inane cooing, know this: the Hermitage cats are legion. You may not know them, but they certainly know you. Oh they know you — a bipedal mass of untoned flesh and sweat, staring at the precious art with your beady, hungry eyes, standing there, mouth-breathing, reaching your sweaty flesh-mitts towards the Michelangelo as if it’s some tube of garbage meat you can shove down your cavernous throat. You’re just like the rest of them. The Hermitage cats are watching you.
In recognition of these guards’ diligent labor, the museum commissioned a series of cat portraits from Uzbek artist Eldar Zakirov. The series, “Cats of Hermitage,” is inspired by the museum’s collection and will appear in Hermitage Magazine. But because we know that you didn’t renew your subscription to Hermitage Magazine this year (we told you: the cats are watching), we’ve included some of the ornate portraits below.
To see all six portraits, click here.