"Louis Wain, The Man Who Drew Cats" is the title of the authoritative Louis Wain biography published by Rodney Dale in 1968, and in a nutshell that is exactly what Louis Wain was - a hugely productive artist who painted cats prodigiously. His work appeared in over 100 children's books and formed the subject matter of many postcards. These printed materials are highly prized and sell for substantial sums at auction.
The purpose of this article is not to re-tell the story of Wain's life but more to celebrate his output and the ways in which it can be accessed nowadays. If you are interested in the life of Louis Wain and the impact he had on society's attitude to cats then I can thoroughly recommend this article from the Another Man website:
Gifts for The Louis Wain Fan
The great news is that Louis Wain's work is accessible to all pockets. True, you may not be getting a large framed original work of art for under a tenner, but you could be buying into 12 different reproductions of his art for that price.
Let's go straight for the top of the range though and into the London Gallery of Chris Beetles, the UK's leading authority on the work of Louis Wain.
Louis Wain & The Cat Show (7th - 28th September 2019)
Every September, the Chris Beetles Gallery hosts a "Louis Wain and The Cat Show" exhibition at his Mayfair gallery. The Show always features an enticing collection of Wain original paintings and illustrations. At this point it is worth pointing out that Louis Wain's work has been widely copied sometimes innocently, sometimes less so, and the advantages of buying an original or print through the UK's leading authority on Wain's art has obvious advantages. Prices start in the high hundreds rising to several thousands of pounds for an important painting.
Star of the 2019 Show will be "There She Is" priced at £17,500 for a 23.5 x 15.5" framed and signed oil on canvas:
What a special gift that would make for a Louis Wain collector!
Louis Wain Branded Merchandise
With artist copyright having expired some time ago, enterprising businesses are free to use Wain's artwork on their wares, and several are currently doing so. Here's a round up of some Louis Wain product currently available:
PosterLounge : A selection of inexpensive reproduction prints
Zazzle : Clock, watch, pocketwatch
The Cat Gallery : Desk Calendar (available June - Dec)
Etsy : Jewellery, including necklaces
Lora Verner Designs : Greetings Cards
Books About Louis Wain, His Life and Work
At the start of this post I mentioned the Rodney Dale biography of Louis Wain. This is one of two books that I would wholeheartedly recommend to a fan of Louis Wain. The 1968 original is now out of print, but fortunately it has been republished by Chris Beetles in an extensively revised format with new colour plates. Chris has also compiled another volume entitled Louis Wain's Cats which includes a list of all published books featuring Louis Wain work. You can buy both of these titles at The Cat Gallery.
A Louis Wain Themed Outing?
And finally, if you find yourself in the South East of England, why not plan a visit to the Bethlem Museum of the Mind in Beckenham, Kent. This Museum, opened in 2015, houses an internationally important collection of work which offers an unparalleled resource to support the history of mental healthcare and treatment. These works include 55 Louis Wains. (Please call them before travelling as part of the collection is sometimes loaned out to other institutions). Wain suffered from mental health issues and was eventually incarcerated. He died in Napsbury Hospital in St Albans in 1939. The 80th anniversary of his death being 4th July 2019.
Fortunately for us, Louis Wain's work lives on in museums, galleries, books and printed ephemera. From these resources a variety of affordable gift products are available. We hope our little tour of available Louis Wain fare has pointed you in the direction of a suitable gift for a Louis Wain loving cat fan?