I was recently browsing through some of my mothers massive collection of vintage books and came across a book, In Animal Land with Louis Wain. Filled with super illustrations of cats, the book intrigued me, so today I’m sharing some of the images with you and a bit about the man himself, which I’ve been reading up on since.
Louis Wain, born August 1860 died July 1939, was a English artist best known for his illustrations. In his early twenties, Louis drew country scenes and animal for some well known journals. When he reached 23 years old he married a lady called Emily, which was quite the scandal as she was ten years his senior. Louis and Emily took in a stray cat which Louis began to draw, Emily loved his drawings of the cat and urged him to get them published. Sadly three years later Emily passed away suffering from breast cancer. Louis continued to draw cats as a promise to his passed love.
Inn 1886, Louis had his first cat illustrations published in the Illustrated London News and over the following years he started to draw the cats standing up, wearing clothes, pouring cups of tea and so on. For the next thirty years Louis continued to draw, becoming a prolific artist. Alas he lived life in constant financial hardship, he often sold drawing outright and retaining no rights over them, added to this Louis was responsible for his mother and sisters.
Louis was committed, in 1924, to Springfield Mental Hospital in Tooting, his sisters complaining of his erratic and sometimes violent behavior. Louis was diagnosed as having schizophrenia, although this has since been debated with a notable doctor indicating Wain more than likely had Asperger’s Syndrome. A year later, he was discovered there and his circumstances were widely publicized, leading to appeals from such figures as H. G. Wells and the personal intervention of the Prime Minister. Louis was transferred to a small number of different hospitals until ending up near St Albans in a pleasant hospital, with a garden and colony of cats, spending his final 15 years there in peace. His cat drawings from this time had bright colours, flowers, abstract patterns.