Craxton's Cats

Andrew Lambirth

An appealing illustrated book of cats in their many moods, depicted with affectionate wit and humor by the artist John Craxton.

A superbly illustrated account of one of the major figures of modern British painting's passion for cats, written with personal knowledge of the artist. By concentrating on a single subject very dear to John Craxton's heart—cats—this volume offers an accessible introduction to this popular artist, who has been championed by David Attenborough and Andrew Marr, among many others. Craxton's significance as an early artist companion of Lucian Freud, his time in Greece, and his collaborations with Patrick Leigh Fermor have generated growing interest in his art.

For Craxton, cats were an index of moods and states of mind, and a splendidly apposite vehicle for his visual and verbal wit. Craxton loved cats and lived with them for most of his life. The cat image came readily to mind and hand, whether he was planning a taverna scene in Crete or doodling during a telephone conversation. Cats permeate his art, weaving their way through his paintings, drawings, and prints, bringing humor and mischief to his images, as they did to his daily existence. Affectionate and faithless, they were like so many casual lovers, no better than they should be and gloriously on the make. In many ways, they are a fitting symbol or leitmotif for Craxton's own happy-go-lucky life.

A widely accessible introduction to Craxton's work, this delightful book will appeal to the devotee and the uninitiated alike.


Andrew Lambirth


Andrew Lambirth is a writer, curator, and critic. He has written for a wide variety of newspapers and magazines, and was art critic at The Spectator from 2002 to 2014. The first book he worked on was Eileen Agar's autobiography, A Look at My Life, initially published in 1988 and recently reissued by Thames & Hudson. Among his other books are monographs on Roger Hilton, RB Kitaj, Maggi Hambling, John Hoyland, Margaret Mellis, and John Nash. He lives in Wiltshire, surrounded by books and pictures.