For many years this painting was known as 'Monk with Cat', though the figure is in fact a Rabbi. The two men carrying sacks in the background are Jews fleeing a pogrom. The Hand of God can be seen in the top-left corner, blessing the Rabbi, who may be stroking the cat for the last time before he too departs. The picture is indebted to Russian icons. We can read an analogy between the Rabbi and cat and the Virgin and Child. The painting delivers a poignant message about compassion, suffering and religious intolerance.