Fat cat! 22-pound feline appears in 'Mona Lisa' and other famous artworks

Svetlana Petrova & Zarathustra t Svetlana Petrova & Zarathustra t
Zarathustra appears in Michelangelo's "The Creation of Adam."

One fat cat has found his way into some of history’s most famous pieces of art.

Russian artist Svetlana Petrova is behind the series “Fat Cat Art,” which features her 22-pound cat Zarathustra in the hands of the Leondaro da Vinci’s "Mona Lisa," touching God’s finger in Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam,” and in dozens of other famous artworks. 

“He’s a very sensible and tender cat,” Petrova told TODAY.com in an email. “A real gentleman.”

Petrova started the series in February 2011 as a way of helping herself through depression, which came on after she lost her mother in 2008. Zarathustra was initially her mother’s cat, but Petrova inherited him.

“I was so close to my mother and miss her so much,” Petrova said. “Zarathustra was and is a living memory of my mother.”

The secret of Mona Lisa’s smile revealed! Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa Svetlana Petrova & Zarathustra t

To boost Petrova’s spirits, a friend suggested she do an art project with the cat, given his hefty weight and funny personality.

“It was useless to put wings on him, because he is evidently unable to fly in his physical condition," Petrova said, “so I thought that maybe I can make a photo session.”

She decided to take a photo of the cat, then digitally insert him into a handful of still-life paintings.

“I sent them out to some friends of mine, artists and gallerists, just to see their reaction,” she said. “Never before have I seen serious ladies laughing to tears.” With her friends’ amused encouragement, she launched the site "Fat Cat Art." 

American gothic behind Ameri-cat politics? Grant Wood, American Gothic. I can has cheeseburger? Svetlana Petrova & Zarathustra t

Now, more than two years later, the site consists of nearly 80 altered images. Additionally, the artwork is appearing in an exhibition at the Stonehill House in England. 

Petrova believes that while the images are funny, they also deserve to be taken seriously.

“We are just waiting for a museum that would be brave enough to let an Internet kitty in,” she said. “Museums let graffiti writers in, now it’s a cat’s turn.”

  • Slideshow Photos

    Fat cat invades famous artworks

    Russian artist Svetlana Petrova crafted the “Fat Cat Art” series, which consists of a collection of notable artworks that — thanks to digital editing — now feature her 22-pound feline, Zarathustra.

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    Fat cat finds his way into historic artworks -

    Russian artist Svetlana Petrova is the artist behind the "Fat Cat Art" series, which features her 22-pound cat Zarathustra digitally imposed on historic pieces of art. Here, Zarathustra appears in the "Tomb of the Diver," a Greek wall painting.

    Svetlana Petrova & Zarathustra the Cat
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    'The Birth of Venus' -

    Petrova started the series in 2011 to help herself out of a depression that came on after her mother's death. Zarathustra was originally her mother's cat, but she inherited him when her mom passed away.

    “I was so close to my mother and miss her so much,” Petrova said. “Zarathustra was and is a living memory of my mother.” Here the replaces Venus in Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus."

    Svetlana Petrova & Zarathustra the Cat
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    'Equestrian Portrait of Philip IV' -

    Zarathustra gives King Philip IV of Spain a ride in this digitally altered version of a famous portrait by Diego Velazquez.

    Svetlana Petrova & Zarathustra the Cat
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    'Musical Angel' -

    To boost her spirits, Petrova's friend suggested she try an art project with her cat. "I thought that maybe I can make a photo session," she said.

    Zarathustra strums a lute in this adaptation of Rosso Fiorentino's "Musical Angel."

    Svetlana Petrova & Zarathustra the Cat
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    'Declaration of Independence' -

    Petrova creates the images by taking photographs of the cat, then inserting them into digital versions of artworks. "It can take months to catch the right expression of Zarathustra's face," Petrova said.

    Here Zarathustra and another cat join the Founding Fathers at the signing of the Declaration of Independence as portrayed by John Trumbull.

    Svetlana Petrova & Zarathustra the Cat
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    'American Gothic' -

    Zarathustra eyes a cheeseburger in Petrova's version of Grant Wood's "American Gothic."

    Svetlana Petrova & Zarathustra the Cat
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    'Mona Lisa' -

    Perhaps a 22-pound cat is the reason behind Mona Lisa's smile this digitally altered version of Leonardo Da Vinci's masterpiece.

    Svetlana Petrova & Zarathustra the Cat
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    'The Persistence of Memory' -

    After creating a few images, Petrova sent them to a few of her friends to see what they thought. “Never before have I seen serious ladies laughing to tears," she said.

    Here Zarathustra goes surrealist as he invades Salvador Dali's "The Persistence of Memory."

    Svetlana Petrova & Zarathustra the Cat
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    'The Scream' -

    Zarathustra lets out a cry in Petrova's rendition of "The Scream," the iconic painting by Edvard Munch.

    Svetlana Petrova & Zarathustra the Cat
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    'Nighthawks' -

    Petrova's "Fat Cat" series now consists of nearly 80 images, many of which are featured in an exhibition in England. One of them is this reimagined version of Edward Hopper's "Nighthawks."

    Svetlana Petrova & Zarathustra the Cat
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    'Whistler's Mother' -

    The images may be funny, but Petrova believes that they should be considered as seriously as other pieces of work. “We are just waiting for a museum that would be brave enough to let an Internet kitty in,” she said. “Museums let graffiti writers in, now it’s a cat’s turn.”

    Here Zarathustra adds a splash of color to James McNeill Whistler's "Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1," colloquially known as "Whistler's Mother."

    Svetlana Petrova & Zarathustra the Cat
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