Painting of three kittens by Bessie Bamber

painting of three kittens, with ribbons in different national colours tied round their necks

This year's advent calendar features items relating to the First World War from National Museums Liverpool.

Liverpool artist Bessie Bamber painted this picture of kittens in 1911. She was known for her charming oil paintings of cats and kittens but this one is unusual in making political comment.  

Two sweet-natured kittens sit together wearing French and Belgian colours. The 'Belgian' kitten has its paw on the tail of a third, bad tempered kitten, wearing a German military decoration, the Iron Cross.

The kittens represent European alliances and growing international tensions prior to the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. 

This painting, which is not currently on display, is from the Decorative Art collection at the Walker Art Gallery.

  • Oil painting of kittens on porcelain, by artist Bessie Bamber, Liverpool, 1911
  • Accession number WAG 1997.35