Luis Wain 1860-1939
One of Britains most recognisable artists, this is a very beautiful example of Luis Wain work and quite remarkable that it has not been broken up into three separate pictures. I bought it from the world renowned Tennants Auctioneers in North Yorkshire who stated they were completely happy with the provenance and I am 100% happy with Tennants judgment.
17.5cm by 24cm, pastel on card.
Louis William Wain was born on 5 August 1860 in Clerkenwell in London. 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. At the age of thirty his youngest sister was certified as insane and admitted to an asylum. The remaining sisters lived with their mother for the duration of their lifetimes, as did Louis for the majority of his life.
Louis studied at the West London School of Art and eventually became a teacher there for a short period. At the age of 20, Wain was left to support his mother and his five sisters after his father’s death.
Wain soon quit his teaching position to become a freelance artist, and in this role, he achieved substantial success. He specialised in drawing animals and country scenes, and worked for several journals including the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, where he stayed for four years, and The Illustrated London News, beginning in 1886. 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.
In 1886, Wain’s first drawing of anthropomorphised cats was published in the Christmas issue of the Illustrated London News, titled “A Kittens’ Christmas Party”. The illustration depicted 150 cats, many of which resembled Peter his wifes first cat, doing things such as sending invitations, holding a ball, playing games, and making speeches, spread over eleven panels. Still, the cats remain on all fours, unclothed, and without the variety of human-like expression that would characterise Wain’s later work. Under the pseudonym of George Henri Thompson, he illustrated numerous books for children by Clifton Bingham published by Ernest Nister.