Louis Wain, Cats in Dogland

Louis Wain was an English artist best known for his drawings, which often featured anthropomorphised large-eyed cats and kittens. However the scope of work was far wider than this. He was a true artist but combined this with an approach to the rendering of his art in a unique and unprecedented style.

Wain was born on the 5th August 1860, so lived to the good age of 79, passing away on 4th July 1939. His father was a textile trader and embroiderer; his mother was French. He was the first of six children, and the only male child. None of his five sisters ever married.

Annuals By Lois Wain
A selection of Wains Annuals, issued from 1905 to 1914 © Louis Wain

Wain was born with a cleft lip and the doctor gave his parents the orders that he should not be sent to school or taught until he was ten years old. In his later years he may have suffered from schizophrenia (although this claim is widely disputed among many specialists if this is true or not), which, according to some psychiatrists, can be seen in his works.

Shortears Began And Sung A Solo. Then All The Cats Joined And Sung The Chorus To Madame’s Satisfaction (1886) © Louis Wain/Chris Beetles Gallery London

As a youth, he was often truant from school, and spent much of his childhood wandering around London. Following this period, Louis studied at the West London School of Art and eventually became a teacher there for a short period.

Two Jugs Of Milk

At the age of 20, Wain was left to support his mother and his five sisters after his father’s death.

The Naughty Puss, and of course ….
… The Good Puss

Wain soon resigned from his teaching position to become a freelance artist, and in this role he achieved substantial success. He specialized in drawing animals and country scenes, and worked for several journals including the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, where he stayed for four years. He also worked for the Illustrated London News from 1886.

I am very happy because everbody loves me

Through the 1880s, Wain’s work included detailed illustrations of English country houses and estates, along with livestock he was commissioned to draw at agricultural shows. His work at this time includes a wide variety of animals, and he maintained his ability to draw creatures of all kinds throughout his lifetime. At one point, he hoped to make a living by drawing dog portraits, but he didnt need to …

Dogs In Catland © Louis Wain

Wain became one of the most popular commercial illustrators in the history of England. His cats, dogs and other animals captured the imagination of the Edwardian era and his work helped to promote domestic cats to unprecedented heights. Before Wain, cats in England were often thought of with contempt, but his work humanised them and helped to show them as something to be liked, admired and even loved.

Peter the Cat, Emilys friend sat in thegarden
Peter the Cat, Emilys friend sat in the garden

His illustrations were so popular that throughout the beginning of the twentieth-century most homes had at least one of his famous cat annuals and many nurseries had Wain posters hanging on their walls. “He made the cat his own” H.G. Wells once remarked. “…he invented a cat style, a cat society, a whole cat world.”

At the age of 23, Wain married his sisters’ governess, Emily Richardson, who was ten years his senior (which was considered quite scandalous at the time), and moved with her to Hampstead in north London. Emily soon began to suffer from breast cancer, and died three years into their marriage. Prior to Emily’s death, Wain discovered the subject that would define his career. During her illness, Emily was comforted by their pet cat Peter, a stray black and white kitten they had rescued after hearing him mewing in the rain one night.

Apple Tree Cats

Emily’s spirits were greatly lifted by Peter, and Louis began to draw extensive sketches of him, which Emily strongly encouraged him to have published. She died before this happened, but he continued to make cat sketches. He later wrote of Peter, “To him, properly, belongs the foundation of my career, the developments of my initial efforts, and the establishing of my work.” Peter can be recognized in many of Wain’s early published works.

See more of Wains Work here

If you wish to buy an original of Wains work then try the Chris Beetles Gallery

References: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Wain & other sources./p>

Other Illustrations by Wain using Pencil and Pen & Ink

The door of the Annual
A Cats Nightmare
A selection of Wains ‘Fractal Cat’ Illustrations
The Man Himself. Bringing Joy to so many, us included eh Osc.

Steinlen Painted Cats

Théophile Alexandre Steinlen was born in Lausanne, Switzerland on 10th November 1869. Little is recorded of his childhood, but he went on to study at the University of Lausanne before taking a job as a designer trainee at a textile mill in Mulhouse in eastern France.

Self portrait with cats 1921. The one on his shoulder is getting very friendly.

Steinlen is well-known for being very fond of Cats. He was fascinated by them and drew, painted and sculpted them many times. He tried to capture each subtlety of their poses and movements, and from looking at his works we can see he has achieved his goal.

des chats

Des Chats. 1889. Looks like half a gallon of Milk in that bowl

'Chat Noir' Nightclub 1896

The famous poster of
‘Chat Noir’ Nightclub 1896

Moving with his new wife to the Montmartre Quarter of Paris at the age of 21, Steinlen was befriended by the illustrator Adolphe Willette, who introduced him to the avant-garde literary and artistic environment of the Chat Noir cabaret which had been founded not long before.

Little Girl With Cat. 1889
Little Girl With Cat. 1889. The poor creature is distraught. How’d you like if I picked you up like that Osc.

His house on the Rue Caulaincourt was, according to contemporary accounts, a meeting place for all the cats of the arrondissement. In his early years as an artist, he would sell drawings of cats in exchange for food, and in later years a cat began to be incorporated in many of his drawings, magazine illustrations, lithographs or posters, almost to the point of being his unique personal trade mark.

Old Cat 1902

Steinlens’ talent was spotted by owner of the ‘Chat Noir’ Caberet club, Aristide Bruant and he commissioned Théophile to do poster art and illustrations of its satirical and humorous journal, also called ‘Chat Noir’

Study in pencil, for a milk company poster called ‘Lait pur sterilise’.

Steinlen went on to form artistic collaborations with writers such as Emile Zola, poets such as Jean Richepin, composers such as Paul Delmet, artists such as Toulouse-Lautrec, all of whom he encountered at Le Chat Noir.

Cat of the Month ~ April 2020

Cat On the sofa. ~ 1889

In the early 1890s, Steinlen’s paintings of rural landscapes, flowers, and nudes were being shown at the Salon des Indépendants. Throughout Steinlen’s life Montmartre became a favorite subject of his work and he often painted scenes of some of the harsher aspects of life in the area. Steinlen undoutedly had a great love and admiration for cats of all kinds, as is seen in his paintings, sketches and sculpture. Cats often find thier way into his paintings of street scenes and alongside the characters he saw on the streets of Paris.

Poster for the vetinary clinic sharon. 1905

Théophile Steinlen died in 1923 in Paris and was buried in the Cimetière Saint-Vincent in Montmartre.

Two cats on a cabinet. 1914

Today, his works can be found at many museums around the world including at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., United States.

The artist at work in his studio




The Sofa Cats

Cat(s) of the Month ~ September 2012

The Society of Feline Artists, or S.O.F.A for short, was founded in September 1994. They have the aim of promoting the work of the best cat artists, whether established or unknown….and what an amazing collection of feline portraits they have in store on their website!

Stable Cat
Painting/Photograph: Barbara Thaxter

The society has had an annual exhibition of cat paintings at the Llewellyn Alexander Gallery in London for several years, featuring over 100 artists, some of whom exhibit internationally and showing more than 300 paintings in a range of media, making it the largest exhibition of cat art in the United Kingdom.

Subjects range from the humble moggy and the friendly domestic tabby to the more exotic breeds like Siamese, Burmese and Bengals and of course the Big cats. From the nobility and drama of the wild cat to the playful kitten – all are painted with the mastery of artists who know and understand their subject.

Norman and I have looked through the gallery on the S.O.F.A website and selected some of the pictures which have caught our eyes. We hope you like ’em too.

Barbara Thaxter

A Shady Place
Painting/Photograph: Barbara Thaxter

Jackie Coote

Frankie ‘The Professor’
Painting/Photograph: Jackie Coote

Painting/Photograph: Jackie Coote

Kay Young

Painting/Photograph: Kay Young

Jasmine and Bertie
Painting/Photograph: Kay Young

Marion Forster

After all we’ve done
Painting/Photograph: Marion Forster

Ebony Gang
Painting/Photograph: Marion Forster

Marion Pritchard

Everything in the garden is lovely
Painting/Photograph: Marion Pritchard

Tabby with Fushias
Painting/Photograph: Marion Pritchard

Sue Sareen

Black and White Cats
Painting/Photograph:Sue Sareen

Two Kitties
Painting/Photograph:Sue Sareen

Alex Johnson

Sitting Pretty
Painting/Photograph:Alex Johnson

Painting/Photograph:Alex Johnson

Not forgetting a link to the S.O.F.A Website where there are a whole lot more artists and their paintings.

Cat paintings by Peter Robinson

We’ve been looking at these painting for many years (haven’t we Norm?) and find them fascinating. I’m including a selection of our favourites here. We especially like the one that’s a dead ringer for Norman himself! We’d like to thank Peter (Gordon and the all the cats too!) for letting us post them here.

Peters work is described on his own website …”Working in designer gouache and pastels, mostly from photographs, Peter paints his cats with colourful, intricate and detailed backgrounds”. To us, Peter seems to capture the real spirit of these cats, as well as making the works highly decorative. Wonderful!

Alison's Cat

Alison’s Cat (just like Norman!)
Photograph: © Peter Robinson
Kitten on the bed

Kitten on the bed
Photograph: © Peter Robinson
Cat with lilies

Cat with Lilies
Photograph: © Peter Robinson
Cats Eyes

Cats Eyes
Photograph: © Peter Robinson
Ginger Cat Brother

Ginger Cat Brothers (both are just like our old cat gingerbread)
Photograph: © Peter Robinson
Moggy Gloria

Photograph: © Peter Robinson
Marigold Cat

Photograph: © Peter Robinson
Two Sisters

Two sisters grumpy
Photograph: © Peter Robinson

Photograph: © Peter Robinson

Ginger Cats
Photograph: © Peter Robinson

The Cats of Elizabeth Blackadder

Well, Norman and I just love these paintings….

Dame Elizabeth Blackadder RA was born on 24 September 1931 in Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland, United Kingdom. She trained at Edinburgh University and Edinburgh College of Art (ECA).

Fred on top of cupboard

Fred on top of cupboard
Photograph Copyright: Elizabeth Blackadder

Her early work was influenced by the Scottist Colourist Joseph Crawhall and her teacher, William Gillies. In 1954 she travelled to Yugoslavia, Greece and Italy after receiving the Carnegie Travelling Scholarship.

Kikko on a rug

Kikko on a rug
Photograph Copyright: Elizabeth Blackadder

At the time of writing Elizabeth is still travelling widely for exhibitions throughout the world. From 1956 to 1986 she taught at ECA.

Venice Cats

Venice Cats
Photograph Copyright: Elizabeth Blackadder

Her signature subjects include landscapes, cats, flowers, still-lifes and portraits.
Blackadder’s work is based in the traditions of the Edinburgh School, but is strongly influenced by Japanese aesthetics.

Amelia Sleeping

Amelia Sleeping
Photograph Copyright: Elizabeth Blackadder

Characteristically, she carefully arranges objects in a shallow pictorial space to create intriguing and subtly decorative images.

siemese cat painting

Siemese Cat
Photograph Copyright: Elizabeth Blackadder DBE, RWA, RA, RSA, RSW
Dame Elizabeth Blackadder

Dame Elizabeth Blackadder DBE, RWA, RA, RSA, RSW, in her studio, November 2010
Photograph Copyright: The Scottish Gallery