Google’s ‘Pet Portraits’ Feature Found my Cat’s Historical Twin


My cat Leia’s historical doppelgänger, courtesy of the new “Pet Portraits” feature in the Google Arts & Culture app. The eyes are almost exactly the same.
Screenshot: Jody Serrano / Gizmodo

Google has finally come up with a new feature that has allowed me to fulfil a lifelong goal: Getting my baby, Leia, on the blog. My goal aside, the company’s new “Pet Portraits” feature is sure to bring some you some joy and help you learn something new on this lazy Monday.

Pet Portraits is a part of Google’s Arts & Culture app and is the company’s ingenious way of inspiring our brains to step away from TikTok (speaking for myself) and K-dramas (again, speaking for myself) to check out some cool pet art. With Pet Portraits, Google uses computer vision and machine learning technology to match a photo of your pet to tens of thousands of historical artworks, including paintings, sculptures, and old photos.

Your animal companion could be matched with ancient Egyptian figurines, vibrant Mexican street art, serene Chinese watercolors, and more,” Google wrote in its blog announcing the feature on Monday.

9to5Google spotted the new feature on Android last week and reported its debut on iOS.

Finding your pet’s famous historical art doppelganger is easy. For this test, I used photos of my six-month-old cat Leia (also known in the Gizmodo Slack as “Baby”). Pet Portraits doesn’t just work with cats and dogs, though. In its blog, Google says it will also work with fish, birds, reptiles, horses, or rabbits.

To start off, select the Google-colored camera icon in the middle of the Arts & Culture app. That should automatically take you to Pet Portraits. If you get lost though—Google has lots of other cool camera features in this part of the app—just look for the green cat icon.

Once you get to the Pet Portraits, Google asks you to take a photo of your pet. As Leia was napping when I wrote this blog, I had to use photos I had already taken of her, which is fine as well. After you chose a photo, the rest is pretty simple! Google will analyze the photo and give you a series of results based on how similar they are to your pet using a percentage.

Clicking on the art will show you its name and also give you the option to learn more about it. For the photo I chose, Google showed me various artworks, but the one that stood out and interested me the most was a painting from 1885 called “Tommy” by Antoinette Margot.Tommy” featured American Red Cross founder Clara Barton’s cat of the same name, and Google said the artwork was a 79% match for Leia. I would say this is accurate! Although their coloring isn’t that similar, they have the same striking green eyes.

Image for article titled Google's New 'Pet Portraits' Feature Helped Me Find my Cat's Historical Doppelganger

Image: Jody Serrano / Gizmodo

According to Arts & Culture, Barton described Tommy as her “faithful friend” of 17 years. Margot, the artist, worked with Barton during the Franco-Prussian War. The painting was contributed by the Clara Barton National Historic Site, part of the National Park Service.

Curious about what results Leia’s other photos would bring up, I decided to upload one of her doing one of her favorite things: biting something. (We’re working on it). The first result, with an 87% compatibility score, was the 18th century painting titled “Portrait of a Little Girl with a White Cat” by Catherine Lusurier.

Image for article titled Google's New 'Pet Portraits' Feature Helped Me Find my Cat's Historical Doppelganger

Image: Jody Serrano / Gizmodo

Although the cat in the painting looks way too grumpy to be exactly like Leia—an angel who never gets angry, only whines—it looks exactly like her mother (again, minus the grumpiness). The eyes are very similar, though.

In this case, however, Art & Culture didn’t provide me with more information on the painting, although it seems to be by no fault of its own. The High Museum of Art in Atlanta, which contributed the painting to the app, doesn’t have a description for it online either and only classifies it as “European art.”

Every time you upload a photo, Pet Portraits gives you two options to share your results. You can either save the collage of your photo and a particular artwork as an image or create a video slideshow with all of your results. I didn’t really like all of the artwork I got because some of it was too dark and others didn’t like anything like my Baby, so I opted for saving my favorites, like the one below.

Image for article titled Google's New 'Pet Portraits' Feature Helped Me Find my Cat's Historical Doppelganger

Image: Jody Serrano / Gizmodo

Now, I have to end this blog, because there are few things in this world that make me as chatty or happy as talking about Leia. If I don’t stop, you can be sure I’ll stay here showing you all my Pet Portrait collages. I love pets though, so feel free to share your collages in the comments below if you’re up for it!



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