British Painter Who Changed Perceptions About Cats: Wain

British Painter Who Changed Perceptions About Cats: Wain

Louis Wain’s drawings greatly influenced public attitudes and feelings towards cats in the 20th century.

Science fiction writer H.G. Wells says of Louis Wain, who changed people’s minds about cats: “He made the cat his own. He invented a cat style, a cat community, a whole cat world. British cats who didn’t look and live like Louis Wain’s cats would be ashamed of themselves.” In Wain’s drawings, cats acted like humans. Because of this, the public’s view of cats had changed. However, it was not his success that made the artist famous, but his tragic life story.

The tragic story of painter and printmaker Louis Wain; It begins with the loss of his wife, whom he loves very much and who inspires him. The story of Wain, whose financial situation deteriorates with the deterioration of his mental health and is hospitalized, is told in a movie starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Claire Foy. The film, which met with the audience under the name of Louis Wain’s Colorful World, was recently released in Turkey as well. Let’s get to know the famous artist who left his mark on the 20th century world with his drawings.

Born in London on August 5, 1860, Louis Wain studied at the West London School of Art.

Wain, who got a job as a teacher at the school where he was educated, was almost never unemployed thanks to his talent. While teaching, he also worked for various magazines and newspapers. Wain was performing very successful works by engraving when photographs could not be reproduced. But it wasn’t his talent that made him famous, but his family tragedy.

Emily Richardson, the wife of Louis Wain, whom he married at the age of 23, was diagnosed with breast cancer in the first years of their marriage.

The famous artist began to draw the family cat Peter to entertain his wife in her last period. The editors of Illustrated London News offered to print some of them after seeing Wain’s drawings of cats. Just before Emily passed away, a series of 150 frames called “A Cat’s Christmas Party”, which took about 11 days to draw, was published in newspapers. These drawings had a huge impact in just one night. Because the cats he drew were not just behaving like cats, they were also doing the things that people do.

Louis Wain often secretly drew people around her, but turned them into cats.

Many of the cats in his drawings were playing cricket, paving the way, riding bikes and drinking tea. These cats made fun of people’s behavior. In fact, some of Wain’s drawings were political satire. After a short time, these pictures began to appear on New Year’s agendas and postcards. Thus, Louis Wain became a well-known name throughout the country.

The artist had financial difficulties throughout his life as he did not pursue copyrights.

Louis Wain was a very successful and well-known figure. However, as he did not pursue his rights, he became increasingly poor. After a while, this poverty began to affect his mental health. He abused his sisters with whom he lived and treated them very badly. In 1924, he was imprisoned in a mental hospital in London, on the grounds that he was “crazy”.

The following year, Louis Wain’s condition was noticed by a journalist and a major campaign began for him. The British Prime Minister of the time, Ramsay MacDonald, was among the names supporting the campaign. So much so that he provided a pension to Louis Wain’s sisters. Later, the campaign was successful and Wain was transferred to the better conditions of Bethlem Hospital.

The healthcare professionals working at Bethlem Hospital created an environment that was as pleasant as possible for Louis Wain.

The artist, who got rid of his financial worries and bad living conditions, continued to make beautiful drawings. The hospital staff provided everything Wain needed. One Christmas time, the artist was even asked to help decorate the building. Using mirrors as canvases that day, Louis Wain made cats a part of his Christmas celebrations. The paintings he drew at that time are now exhibited in Bethlem Hospital’s Museum of Mind. When the hospital moved into its new building in 1930, Louis Wain was transferred to Napsbury Hospital. Wain continued to draw in this hospital until his death in 1939.


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