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Animal Therapy: The Cats of Louis Wain

Bethlem Museum of the Mind / Kent / Art

The name Louis Wain conjures up images of large-eyed, gleefully anthropomorphic cats. Born in 1860, Wain grew up in Victorian England. His work was inspired by Peter, a stray kitten he took in and grew to love more than life itself. “Louis Wain loved cats,” explains Rebecca Raybone, Bethlem Museum’s registrar. “And cat lovers love Louis Wane.” But Wain’s life was tragic. He lost his wife, Elizabeth, three years into the marriage, and was later diagnosed with schizophrenia. He suffered various mental breakdowns before his death in 1939, yet somehow his cats became ever more captivating. After the release of the biopic The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, this exhibition celebrates Wain and his extravagant and increasingly electric felines. —E.C.

Bethlem Museum of the Mind Bethlem Royal Hospital, Monks Orchard Rd, Beckenham BR3 3BX, United Kingdom
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