Splash the cash or more affordable ways to celebrate Wain’s world

Victorian artist Louis Wain is in the news this month, featuring in a new film.

Louis Wain watercolour

The Night Before Christmas by Louis Wain - estimate £2000-3000 at Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood in the January 18-20 sale.

The charming/eccentric/twee/grisly (delete as appropriate) cat pictures of Wain divide opinion as to their merits.

His anthropomorphic feline depictions had their roots in an emotionally intense period when his wife was dying of cancer. To comfort her he brought home a stray kitten they named Peter – the subject of his earliest cat drawings.

Although the British artist’s work became hugely popular in Victorian and early 20th century society, he was increasingly troubled by his mental health. He ended up in poverty and a pauper’s ward in a hospital, and had to be given new home at London's Bethlem Hospital after a campaign to help him.

Wain (1860-1939) – described as a delusional character who believed cats were evolving to communicate with humans - is now himself the subject of an artistic work, in screen form: The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Claire Foy.

As with his cat creations, the film has divided opinion among critics. But Wain certainly has many fans among collectors and his work regularly appears at auction (including the striking Cubist-style ceramic cats he also produced).

Here are a few ideas on how to bid for a Louis Wain work at ‘splash the cash’ and ‘more affordable’ levels in upcoming sales.

Crimbo cats

You’ve lost that lovin’ feline if you do not make a bid for The Night Before Christmas (pictured top), a signed watercolour en grisaille heightened with white work on offer at Exeter auction house Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood in the January 18-20 sale.

This 54 x 75cm picture is estimated at £2000-3000.

See Louis Wain The Night Before Christmas on thesaleroom.com.

Animal magic

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Louis Wain Catland Stories offered together with MAC by Cecil Aldin - estimate £100-150 at Stroud Auctions on January 12-13.

If four figures stretch your Wain appetite a tad too far, try bidding for a copy of Louis Wain Catland Stories from Father Tuck’s ‘Furry Mascot’ series edited by Capt Edric Vredenburg, published by Raphael Tuck (c.1915), inscription dated 1916, with illustrations in two colour and black and white, bound in cloth backed boards with colour illustrated cover and felt onlay.

The book is estimated at £100-150 at Stroud Auctions of Gloucestershire on January 12-13. It is offered together with a copy of MAC by Cecil Aldin, published by Henry Frowde and Hodder & Stoughton (c.1915), with colour illustrations on toned paper, bound in cloth backed tartan boards with colour front.

Check thesaleroom.com to view Louis Wain Catland Stories and MAC by Cecil Aldin.

Postcard pick

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Four Louis Wain postcards - estimate £30-40 at Lockdales on January 21-23.

A very affordable option is a lot featuring in Lockdales’ auction in Ipswich on January 21-23. It comprises four postcards featuring Wain designs - which would look great framed together – estimated at £30-40.

Bid for four postcards by Louis Wain via thesaleroom.com.



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