Cats Get Royal Portrait Treatment for the Hermitage Museum for All That Free Labor All These Years

August 13, 2013 | Marina Galperina

There are dozens, maybe hundreds, maybe millions (why not) of stray cats roaming the basements of St. Petersburg Hermitage’s museum since 1745. They lack proper veterinarian care and food because they’re stray cats, but the museum has managed to spin it in this really quirky way. See, they’re like “mascots,” and also holy animals (Ancient Egypt style, but not really) and also “They’re really employees of the Hermitage and they play a very important role.” Because they eat the rats. Because they don’t have a lot else to eat. Because there are millions of stray fucking cats down there.

And now, the Art Newspaper reports that Uzbek artist Eldar Zakirov has been allegedly just commissioned by the Hermitage to paint these glorious, stylized, old-school, royal-like portraits of cats looking opulent and composed up there. Even though they actually look like this — oozy-eyed and weird.

Shout out to ArtInfo for finding the Zakirov’s deviantART profile and upon further examination, the paintings of “DarthEldarious” aren’t paintings as much as they are digital renderings and they’re also from 2012. Presenting: “Cats of the Hermitage.” Like The Hermitage Court Moor in casual uniform. Oh, cute. History racism.