My Wife's Lovers

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My Wife's Lovers
Carl Kahler - My Wife's Lovers.jpg
ArtistCarl Kahler Edit this on Wikidata
Dimensions6 ft (1.8 m) × 8.5 ft (2.6 m)
Weight227 lb (103 kg)
Commissioned byKate Birdsall Johnson Edit this on Wikidata
Collectionprivate collection Edit this on Wikidata

My Wife's Lovers is a canvas painting by Austrian artist Carl Kahler (1855–1906) depicting forty-two of American millionaire Kate Birdsall Johnson's Turkish Angora cats[1]. The title of the painting was potentially conceived by her husband,[2] who may have referred to the cats with the phrase.[3] Measuring 6 by 8.5 feet (1.8 m × 2.6 m), the canvas weighs 227 pounds (103 kg).[4]


Johnson, who owned 350 cats that she housed in her summer house Buena Vista near Sonoma, California, commissioned the painting in 1891.[4] Having never painted a cat before, Kahler spent three years studying cat poses and learning their habits.[2] He reportedly received around $5,000 for the painting (equivalent to $140,000 in 2019).[4] The center of the painting shows her cat Sultan, bought by Johnson during a trip to Paris.[2] Johnson lent the painting for the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, and in the next year it was acquired by Ernest Haquette for his Palace of Art Salon in San Francisco.[4] While the salon was destroyed in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the painting survived it.[4]

Purchases and display[edit]

My Wife's Lovers subsequently hung in Frank C. Havens' Piedmont Art Gallery in Piedmont, California, and was later purchased by a couple from Chicago. In November 2015, the painting was sold at Sotheby's to a private California buyer for $826,000.[4]

In 2016, the Portland Art Museum displayed the piece between February 2 and June 8, 2016 and partnered with the Oregon Humane Society to raise awareness of cat adoptions.[5]


  1. ^ Blakemore, Erin. "Someone Just Paid $826,000 for the Greatest Cat Painting of All Time". Smithsonian. Retrieved 2018-11-19.
  2. ^ a b c Emily Saul (November 3, 2015). "World's largest cat painting sells for $826K". New York Post. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
  3. ^ Rose, Joseph (January 23, 2016). "The world's greatest cat painting is coming to Portland". Retrieved 2018-11-19.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "How a Painting of One Woman's 42 Cats Earned More than $820,000 at Auction". Architectural Digest. November 4, 2015. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
  5. ^ "Carl Kahler: My Wife's Lovers - Portland Art Museum". Portland Art Museum. Retrieved 2018-11-19.

External links[edit]