Art Break Education

A Curious, Remarkable Artist’s Profile: Wain

Louis William Wain (5 August 1860 – 4 July 1939) was an English artist best known for his drawings, which consistently featured anthropomorphized large-eyed cats and kittens. Later in life, he was confined to mental institutions and was alleged to have suffered from schizophrenia. According to some psychiatrists, the onset of schizophrenia can be seen in his works, although the diagnosis is in dispute.

Louis W. Wain

Woefully, he didn’t copyright his art which led to numerous vendors selling his artwork without him getting a “penny”! His work while collectible suffers from promiscous forgeries.

Some of his authentic artwork can be seen here. You can probably harvest more from a general online search like here, which will yield thousands of photos of his amazing work.

His mother was French. He was the first of six children, and the only male child. He has 5 sisters…none of whom found a suitor and as they never got married put extraneous pressure on him to support the family.

H. G. Wells (“father of science fiction”) said of Wain: “He has made the cat his own. He invented a cat style, a cat society, a whole cat world. English cats that do not look and live like Louis Wain cats are ashamed of themselves.”

There’s a movie about Louis Wain aptly called: The Electrical Life of Louis Wain which was intriguing. Don’t pay attention to the ratings on IMDB as I feel they’re invariably unreliable, and highly subjective. Acted by Benedict Cumberbatch (great actor by the way!)

You may recognize some of the following paintings by him…

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