Louis Wain – My What a Pretty Girl

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Signed in full (Louis Wain.) with title on reverse. Pencil with blue and red chalk on paper. Framed and glazed.


Louis Wain was an extremely rapid draughtsman, and could sketch one of his much-practised feline faces in 45 seconds.  He often used this gift very generously to raise funds for various causes; from local cats’ homes to comforts for troops.  He was always ready to make sketches of cats in a moment, and left them with astonished assistants in banks, shops, cafes and other places, who generally treasured them for years afterwards. Photographs of Louis Wain working all show him to be left handed.  Other witnesses have said that he drew with his left hand and signed with his right. Certainly, on his earlier drawings the signature is usually on the right, which is where a right handed signature naturally falls, but in later works it is usually on the left.

Additional information


8½ in x 6½ ins. (21.5 cm x 16.5 cm.)

Frame or Mount

14¼ in x 11¼ in. (33.5 x 28.5 cm.)


Wain, Louis (1860-1939)

Louis Wain was born in 1860, living in London when met and married Emily Richardson. They lived happily for three years and then an unexpected illness took Emily's life. Before she died of breast cancer, Louis spent a lot of time at her bedside drawing Peter their cat. Louis created beautiful pictures of their favorite pet to cheer Emily up. He was quite good and soon became a famous artist in both Britian and the U.S. He also did sketches of dogs and cats that were bought by the Illustrated Sporting News. In 1904, Louis Wain wrote the book "In Animal Land with Louis Wain. Louis was very much a cat lover and soon was elected President of the National Cat Club. It was just after World War I that Louis noticed people were not purchasing cat pictures as they once did, without a job, Louis fell into poverty. Louis lived with his three sisters for a time before he fell into a depression he couldn't escape from. He sought help and was told that he had schizophrenia. He was 57 years old and soon without funds found himself in a mental hospital. The doctors did not understand his art. His art was changing as Louis started perceiving colors around the cats he was drawing (some would call them auras). All physical bodies have an energy field surrounding them. Some people have the ability to perceive these fields. The invisible electromagnetic fields are layered and and represent a different part of the color scheme. Louis told his doctors that he could see and feel electromagnetic currents surrounding living bodies that others seemingly could not see. Louis believed his mind was being sensitized and transformed by these currents. Louis's doctors pronounced him insane in 1924 and he was admitted to the pauper's wing of a mental hospital in Tooting. H G Wells said about Louis Wain's art, "He invented a cat style, a cat society, a whole cat world. English cats that do not look like Louis Wain cats are ashamed of themselves." Years later, Louis was recognized and a fund was set up for him (by prominents such as H.G. Wells), enabling Louis Wain to spent his last years, until his death in 1939, in comfortable asylums; (Bethlem Royal Hospital located in St. George's Fields, Southwark and then in 1930 he was moved to Napsbury Hospital in the city of St Albans, Hertfordshire, England) where he continued to draw and paint cats.