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"World's greatest cat painting" by Carl Kahler sells for $826,000 at Sotheby's New York
Carl Kahler, My Wife's Lovers, oil on canvas, 70 by 101 3/4 in. 177.8 by 258.4 cm. Est. $200/300,000. Sold for: $ 826,000.


NEW YORK, NY.- Today at Sotheby’s New York, during the 19th Century European Art sale, Austrian artist Carl Kahler’s ‘My Wife's Lovers’ commissioned in 1891 by San Franciscan millionaire Kate Birdsall Johnson sold for $826,000, more than two times the high estimate, setting an auction record for a painting by the artist. The large-scale painting depicts 42 of Mrs. Johnson’s 350 much-loved cats who lived in her 3000 acre summer residence, Buena Vista, located near Sonoma. California. The 19th Century European Art sale brought a sale total of $9,871,250.

Kahler established his career primarily as a painter of horse racing scenes in Australia and New Zealand, where he had worked for seven years. Upon arriving in the United States, he was invited to visit a cat enthusiast with a preference for Persian and Angora breeds. Although Kahler had never painted a cat before, Mrs. Johnson hired him and for the next three years he sketched her cats in a variety of poses, thus becoming acquainted with their individual personalities and traits. The painting resulted in the work entitled My Wife’s Lovers, a title supposedly assigned by Mrs. Johnson’s husband. She hired a staff whose sole purpose was to care for the felines. Upon her death, Mrs. Johnson’s will stipulated a gift of $500,000 to guarantee the continued care of the cats.

Mrs. Johnson lent My Wife’s Lovers to the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, where it became an immediate sensation. Soon after Mrs. Johnson’s estate auction of 1894, the painting was acquired by fellow San Franciscan Ernest Haquette who displayed it in his "Palace of Art Salon," which was destroyed in the Great Quake of 1906. My Wife's Lovers was next hung in Frank C. Havens' Piedmont Art Gallery, a public museum. Later owners, Mr. and Mrs. Julian of Chicago, sent My Wife’s Lovers on tour through the United States in the 1940s and to Madison Square Garden for, appropriately, a cat-show. With the Julian's promotion, Kahler's work became so popular that 9,000 prints were sold after the original painting, and in 1949, Cat Magazine called it “the world’s greatest painting of cats.”





Today's News

November 4, 2015

Trevi Fountain reopens after $2.2 million makeover funded by Italian fashion house Fendi

Russian experts are preparing to take DNA samples from the remains of Tsar Alexander III

Dominique Lévy exhibits Robert Motherwell's "Elegy to the Spanish Republic"

Looted Chokwe masks and a rare statue to be returned to Dundo Museum in Angola

Heart of British-born queen Marie of Romania laid to rest after 77-year journey

350 historic and personal lots belonging to Margaret Thatcher will be offered at Christie's

Exhibition of paintings from the 60's and 70's by Larry Zox opens at Stux + Haller

Musée de la Vie romantique opens "Faces of terror, violence and fantasy from David to Delacroix"

"World's greatest cat painting" by Carl Kahler sells for $826,000 at Sotheby's New York

Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung presents key artworks from the French Rococo in an exhibition

Noel Barrett taps into prime collections of European & American toys, trains & dollhouses for fall auction

Major collection of over 250 works on paper by Natalia Goncharove offered at Sotheby's

"Royal Taste: The Art of Princely Courts in Fifteenth-Century China" on view at the Ringling Museum

Oscar-winning 'Chariots of Fire' writer Welland dies

Nepal's first foreign photo festival opens in shadow of quake

Haus der Kunst exhibits works by young, international emerging artists

Getty exhibits daguerreotypes from the collections of musician Graham Nash and collector Paul Berg

Bonhams to sell fascinating Ian Fleming letters

Ancient British tree undergoing 'sex-change'

Kim Conaty appointed curator for Rose Art Museum

First exhibition of contemporary Korean sculptor Yeesookyung in Texas opens

Groundbreaking Neal Adams Green Lantern #76 original cover art headlines huge Heritage Comics Auction

Sotheby's 19 & 20 November Latin American Art Auctions to be presented in a new format

Simon Hope launches landmark automobile partnership with Keno Brothers

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