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Critical Review

Banksy’s Love Rat first appeared as a mural in Liverpool in 2004, before being reproduced as a limited edition print that same year. The rat itself is executed in the artist's signature monochromatic stencil style, shown brandishing a large paint brush in his paws, seemingly having just finished painting the outline of a bright red heart on a wall.

At first glance, it would seem that this Banksy print was intended to spread love on the streets where it was painted. However, the blood-red paint dripping, a popular Street Art technique, implies that the heart is in fact bleeding. Banksy even promoted this work on his website, pitching it jokingly as “ideal for a cheating spouse”. In fact then, Love Rat serves to remind us of love's potential to induce pain and suffering as well as joy and pleasure.

Rats are one of Banksy's greatest sources of inspiration and one of the most prolific subjects in his work. An anagram of “art”, the rat, along with the monkey, is an allegorical tool used by Banksy in his criticism of the human race. His animals are frequently anthropomorphised, having been granted human characteristics and positioned in unusual or comical situations revealing human vices and flaws.

To read more about Banksy's Rats, see our guide here.

Why is Love Rat important?

The symbol of the rat is also closely associated with Bansky himself. Hunted down by the authorities, rats, like graffiti artists, tend to appear by night under the cover of darkness.

Love Rat was the first of Banksy’s rats to make it into print form, after a prolific period that saw the artist paint over 30 rats in various locations around the UK and Europe. Radar Rat and Gangsta Rat are other examples of his popular Rat motif in print.

In his 2005 book, Wall And Piece, Banksy tells his readers that rats “exist without permission. They are hated, hunted and persecuted. They live in quiet desperation amongst the filth. And yet they are capable of bringing entire civilisations to their knees. If you are dirty, insignificant and unloved then rats are the ultimate role model.”

Banksy's appreciation of rats has often been attributed to the French stencil artist Blek le Rat, otherwise known as Xavier Prou, who was the first to initiate urban art in France back in hi1. Blek le Rat's spray-painted stencils of rats first appeared in Paris, on the banks of the Seine, when Banksy was still a child. In Wall and Piece Banksy explains that "every time I think I've painted something slightly original, I find out that Blek le Rat has done it as well, only 20 years earlier."

Why we love Love Rat"With this work Banksy shows a part of himself as well as the influence of figures such as Blek le Rat, making it an important part of his oeuvre. Now one of his most recognisable works, it has gone from street art to blue-chip." - Joe Syer

How do I buy Love Rat?

One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways of buying work by Banksy is by using us to reach a seller. MyArtBroker is a curated site, meaning we feature artists that our collectors say they want. You can find Banksy art for sale here. You’ll need to create a free account to buy or sell with us. We offer an in-depth individual analysis on Banksy works and how certain factors have influenced their market price over the years, as well as useful tips on how to accredit an original Banksy.

How can I sell my Love Rat?

If you're looking to sell art by Banksy, click the link and we can help. We employ a number of techniques and practices in order to give a realistic and achievable valuation on any art listed on myartbroker.com. We analyse the demand for the work in question, take into consideration previous sales and auction valuations, we assess the current gallery valuation and monitor the current deals taking place via MyArtBroker every day. We regularly advise sellers on a price bracket for their artwork completely free of charge.

10 Facts About Banky's Rats

Wall and Piece by Banksy

1. Why does Banksy use rats in his artwork?

“I’d been painting rats for three years before someone said ‘that’s clever, it’s an anagram of art’ and I had to pretend I’d known that all along,” Banksy wrote in his book, Wall and Piece.

For Banksy, each rat brings his political and social commentary to life – they present street artists, rebels, the downtrodden masses and anyone who feels rejected by society. On another page from Wall and Piece, the artist wrote:

“Rats exist without permission. They are hated, hunted and persecuted. They live in quiet desperation amongst the filth. And yet they are capable of bringing entire civilisations to their knees. If you are dirty, insignificant and unloved then rats are the ultimate role model.”

Love Rat by Banksy - MyArtBroker

Love Rat © Banksy 2004

2. Banksy’s Love Rat was the first rat to be made into a print

Love Rat originally appeared as a mural on the streets of Liverpool. It was released as a print in 2004, in 150 signed and 600 unsigned editions. At first, it appears that Love Rat was intended to spread love, but the bleeding heart may be a reminder that love can cause pain and suffering, as well as joy. Banksy even promoted this idea, suggesting a Love Rat print is “ideal for a cheating spouse”.

Gangsta Rat (AP Green) by Banksy - MyArtBroker

Gangsta Rat (AP Green) © Banksy 2004

3. Banksy’s Gangsta Rat has the largest colour variations

Gangsta Rat, wearing a New York Mets baseball cap, a chain necklace and a boom box, is a homage to the urban art and music scene that was fashionable in the UK in the 1980s and 1990s. The tag behind it, ‘iPOW’, references Apple’s i-products, but POW stands for Banksy’s older printers, Pictures on Walls. The artwork originally appeared as a mural in London in 2004. Later that same year, Banksy released Gangsta Rat with a red ‘iPOW’ as 150 signed and 350 unsigned prints. In 2015, he re-released the print in six additional colourways, including pink, mint green, green, orange, blue and grey for special Dismaland VIP collectors.

Radar Rat by Banksy - MyArtBroker

Radar Rat © Banksy 2004