Dogs and cats
Dogs are depicted in many paintings, and particularly in 17th-century genre scenes. They feature in domestic scenes and ‘conversation pieces’, or informal group portraits of people conversing. Dogs appear in art as hunting hounds, beloved pets or companions. Sometimes they have a symbolic significance and refer to (marital) fidelity or vigilance as a warning against immoral conduct. In paintings with sexually tinged subject matter, a dog, like a cat, often stands for lust and lechery. In Western art the cat often has a negative association, for instance of cruelty and greed. Conversely, in Ancient Egypt the cat was sacred and stood for fertility, strength and speed. As with the dog, the meaning of the cat differed from place to place and throughout time.