Famed cat portraitist Louis Wain built his name on his eccentric depictions of felines, a story most recently told in Amazon Prime’s The Electrical Life of Louis Wain starring Benedict Cumberbatch. If the movie (or Wain’s very existence as a cat-centric artist) piques your interest, you can now marvel at his works in person. Fittingly, the exhibit is located in a psychiatric hospital.
According to Artnet, Animal Therapy: The Cats of Louis Wain is currently on display at the Bethlem Museum of the Mind, an attraction located inside of Bethlem Royal Hospital in Kent, England. The gallery offers a look at the illustrations Wain created in Victorian England, which appeared in a variety of mediums including greeting cards and children’s books and features a variety of cats. His first major illustration, “A Kitten’s Christmas Party,” debuted in 1886 and was an immediate hit.
Wain took to portraying the animals after he and wife Emily adopted a stray kitten that was a source of emotional support during Emily’s bout with breast cancer. Following Wain’s later cognitive decline and subsequent stay at Bethlem, his cats became less anthropomorphic and more psychedelic in nature. He died in 1939 at the age of 78.
The exhibit runs through April 14, 2022. If you can’t make it in person, the museum is offering a virtual tour.