The 6-by-8.5-foot oil portrait of 42 life-size Angoras and Persians is any animal lover's dream artwork. According to Mental Floss, the piece was owned by art collector Kate Birdsall Johnson until her death in December 1893.
Like us, Johnson loved cats and her beautiful (and very grand) home near Sonoma, California, was filled with them — with reports from Bohemian stating that local legend had Mrs. Johnson owning as many as 200 cats at one point, but F. Turner Reuter, Jr., author of Animal and Sporting Artists in America, reported that she may have had between 32 and 46.
In 1891, Mrs. Johnson commissioned Austrian immigrant and artist Carl Kahler to paint her beloved pets, and he did an incredible job. Kahler titled the piece "My Wife's Lovers" (believed to have been a nickname given to the cats by Johnson's husband), Mental Floss reports.
The artwork will go on sale during a Sotheby's auction on Nov. 3 in New York, and the company made an informative and fun video about the painting in the buildup to the auction. In the video, there are multiple quotes from various publications describing the painting, one of which from Independent, Long Beach in 1969 reading, "For three years, the artist sketched the pets before beginning the 6 x 8 1/2 foot canvas."
Another from The Inter Ocean in 1893 states, "There is a retinue of... servants whose sole business is to look after them [the cats]."
"My Wife's Lovers" is expected to fetch between $450,000 and $750,000 — at least that was the asking price when the piece went up for sale at Boston's Skinner Auctioneers in 2002 for the country's first cat-only art auction, Mental Floss reports.
For more, watch the video below.
Now if only I had a cool million lying around, this would definitely be hanging in my home.
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