Louis Wain – Exhibition Review

Louis Wain

Wandle Gallery, Wandsworth Museum  

Ran until 31 October 2004    

Star Rating 3/5

This exhibition brought together 45 of Louis Wain’s paintings
along with postcards and books he illustrated, writes Mark
Drinkwater. Wain, famous for his paintings of cats in the early
20th century, became less popular after the first world war and his
mental health deteriorated at the same time. 

The selection focused on his later work when he was at various
psychiatric hospitals. As well as his brightly coloured cats,
Wain’s lesser known work, including birds and rural scenes, were

The exhibition contains eight paintings of cats that get
progressively more vivid. For nearly 50 years after his death it
was believed that these paintings got increasingly bizarre as
Wain’s mental health deteriorated, and this was used as evidence in
theories on schizophrenia.  

However, as the exhibition reveals, the assumed chronology of
these paintings was incorrect, thereby discrediting these

Mark Drinkwater is a community worker in

  • A selection of Louis Wain paintings will be on show from
    mid-November at the Bethlem Museum, Beckenham, London.

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