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Cat Art’s Gold Standard

Last week, I told you the background behind the sad life of Louis Wain, a prominent turn-of-the-century artist whose cats captivated Edwardian England. As his style evolved, his cats began wearing clothes, an artistic choice that no doubt influenced the art depicted on what are popularly known as Mainzer Cat postcards.

What gets lost in the shuffle is the fact that Mainzer was only the publisher, not the artist. The man with the paint brush was Eugen Hartung (1897-1973).

Hartung was born in Wäldi, Switzerland. He illustrated fairy tales and childrens books in addition to the Mainzer postcard images. Like Wain’s, Hartung’s cat universe is populated with stylishly-clad felines, often engaged in frenetic activity. His attention to detail is nothing short of phenomenal; each illustration depicts a clowder engaged in various shenanigans, and each new viewing reveals details hidden like Easter eggs within each work.


Other anthropomorphic animals find their way into his paintings – primarily mice, dogs, and hedgehogs. Hedgehogs!!!!!


Each vignette tells a rich story, often involving some sort of looming disaster.


These dioramas are so rich in detail that you can see them a dozen times and not catch everything.


If you’d like to start collecting Mainzer cat postcards, eBay is a good place to start.

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