Born in 1881 in Paris to a family of musicians, the artist and sculptor Jacques Lehmann Nam began to draw at a young age especially focusing on his parent’s cats. In 1898, he entered the school of Beaux Arts and became an apprentice to Louis-Léon Gérome. Because of his interest in drawing animals, he frequently visited the Jardin zoologigue d’Anvers. In order to make a living, at 19 he started drawing amusing political caricatures as well as other illustrations for the magazines Le Rire, Le Sourire, Le Bon Vivant and many others. He became acquainted with the cat loving French author Colette and in 1929 illustrated her book, Sept dialogues de bȇtes (Seven Dialogues with Animals). In 1935, he illustrated Colette’s book, Chats. Ever the cat lover, in 1960 he wrote and published Eux mes Chats, a book of 45 poems with 70 illustrations. Many of Nam’s works feature tigers, lions, leopards and panthers, in addition to the domestic cat, and even though Nam was well known as an animal artist in general, he said, “I like the felines best. Take, for example, a tiger. Reclining, his eyes half closed, you think he will keep his pose? He has already crossed his paws the other way around.”
At the age of 90, in 1971, he participated in a London exhibition featuring his own cat works as well as those of the cat loving Théophile Steinlein.