This painting is from Paula Rego’s series of works inspired by Portuguese folk tales. The Devil Cat
is the tale of a demon cat, who wreaks havoc on a couple’s marriage after it worms its way into their household. The husband discovers the cat’s true identity after he overhears three devils talking in a forest. To rid themselves of the cat, the man has to tie the cat up with string and rosemary, before setting it on fire. Rego combines several of the elements of the story in her painting – showing the three devils in conversation, already tied with string, with a background of reds, pinks and oranges that may be suggestive of flames.
The Devil Cat – Three Little Devils Wrapped in White Thread
Date of work
Original: Oil paint, crayon and paper laid on canvas152 x 152 mmMuseu Nacional de Arte Contemporanea do Chiado (Lisbon, Portugal)© Paula Rego
Paula Rego was born in Lisbon, Portugal in 1935 and has travelled between London and Portugal throughout her life. She studied painting at the Slade School of Fine Art, London, and throughout her career she has revolutionised the way in which women are represented, playing a key role in redefining figurative art in the UK and internationally. Her early paintings in Portugal were semi-abstract, sometimes applied to violent or political subjects that revealed a love of story-telling that had been awakened in her as a child by folk-tales related by a great-aunt. She is drawn to subjects that are well known, and takes her imagery from sources as varied as Peter Pan and Mary Magdalene. Her work is part of many public collections, including Tate’s collection.