While the Bethlem Louis Wain collection is out on loan, there is another opportunity to see some of his well-known cat illustrations at the Chris Beetles Gallery, from Saturday 20 August until 10 September. This entertaining show has over 250 pictures, including great new works from Chris Beetles’ living artists – Lesley Fotherby, Susan Herbert, Lesley Anne Ivory – and a selection of contributions from Norman Thelwell, as well as the naughty cats of the great Ronald Searle. The exhibition can be viewed online, at the Chris Beetles website, as well as details of a new book on Louis Wain’s Cats.
Louis Wain (1860-1939) is one of the most well-known of Bethlem’s former patients (along with fellow artist Richard Dadd). The “Louis Wain Cat” was hugely popular from the 1880s until the outbreak of the First World War, although Wain continued to draw until near the end of his life, including while a patient in Bethlem and other hospitals. Wain was certified insane in June 1924, and committed to Springfield Hospital at Tooting. His admirers discovered him there in 1925 and started a campaign to move him, to which Prime Minister, Ramsay Macdonald, contributed. This resulted in Wain’s transfer to Bethlem Hospital, where he stayed until 1930 (when the Hospital moved site). Transferred to Napsbury Hospital, near St Albans, Wain remained there for the remainder of his life.
And the Band Plays on, Chris Beetles Gallery (click image for details)