most expensive cat painting in the world sells for $826,000
emily kate moon stashed this in art
In 1891, San Francisco millionairess Kate Birdsall Johnson commissioned Austrian artist Carl Kahler to paint 42 of her 350 beloved cats. The now-famous felines lived in great luxury in her 3,000-acre summer house near Sonoma, California. On November 3, the monumental 6-by-8.5-foot canvas sold for well over twice its $200,000–$300,000 estimate.
“We are thrilled with the $826,000 price achieved for My Wife’s Lovers in our auction,” says Polly Sartori, head of 19th-century European paintings at Sotheby’s. “It has been a great pleasure being the temporary custodian of this fabulous painting. The reception it has received—in person during our exhibition and on social media—has been extraordinary. It just confirms how many cat lovers there are in the world, and I include myself in this esteemed category.”
Before starting the canvas, Kahler sketched the pets for no less than three years to get true likenesses. He was reportedly paid around $5,000 for the painting. Johnson, who died in 1893, just two years after it was completed, left a gift of $500,000 in her will to guarantee the care of her feline menagerie.
Johnson lent My Wife’s Lovers to the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, and in 1894 it was acquired by Ernest Haquette, who hung the painting in his lavish Palace of Art Salon in San Francisco. The salon was destroyed in the great earthquake of 1906, but the painting managed to survive. Kahler himself did not. My Wife’s Lovers next hung in Frank C. Haven’s Piedmont Art Gallery in Piedmont, California and was later purchased by a Mr. and Mrs. Julian of Chicago.
The canvas is so large and heavy, weighing an astonishing 227 pounds, that Sotheby’s had to build a special wall to display the work. It is now headed to its new home in Los Angeles, after an anonymous California collector won a bidding war that started at $300,000. 'I purchased My Wife’s Lovers by Carl Kahler based on my mother’s fond memories of the image,” the buyer says. “I bought a print of it for her, and it hung in her living room until she passed away at 91. Its California history made it all the better.”
The former owner of this painting was obviously a stone psychopath. SHE ONLY HAD FLUFFY CATS!!!
what an adorable gif!!
i love this painting. the care that was put into depicting each cat is wonderful.
As for the cats depicted in “My Wife’s Lovers,” they were actual felines owned by Johnson. According to Sotheby’s, the fluff ball with the poofy white chest and brilliant green eyes who is seated majestically in the center of the painting was named Sultan, and the feline to his left was likely His Highness, who appeared in another painting by Kahler.
Kahler worked for three years to complete the painting, spending much of that time sketching Johnson’s numerous cats in various poses, and getting to know their personalities so that he could accurately portray them on canvas. The title of the massive painting was supposedly the idea of Johnson's husband.
I like the contrast of the cats just sitting around, vs the dogs need to be doing something.
My eyes are getting itchy just looking at it.
Allergies or just all that cat hair?
I discovered in a cat cafe in Tokyo that I am allergic!
Too much of anything can be bad. Surrounded by cats I'm sure a lot of us would be allergic!
wow! what a spectacular cat!
I like how gloriously triumphant that cat is.