Wain’s Kalideoscope Cats

Louis Wain was an artist popular for his paintings of cats in the late 1800s and early 1900s. H.G. Wells said that “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.”

Wain began to exhibit the symptoms of schizophrenia around 1910, and was committed to a mental hospital in 1924.

The following pictures of cats are typically interpreted as illustrating the increasing effects of his schizophrenia. Some debate this however, as Wain did not date his paintings, and argue that he was simply experimenting with patterns reflecting his mother’s work designing textiles.

Regardless of explanation, they remain utterly fascinating.

Cat 1

Cat 2

Cat 3

Cat 4

Cat 5

Cat 6

Cat 7

Cat 8

All images copyright the Archives and Museum of Bethlem Royal Hospital.

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