Sammy Nickalls
November 05, 2015 8:59 am

Are you a cat lover? Do you dream of being surrounded by cats on an almost constant basis? Do you have cat socks, cat sweaters, cat blankets, cat WALLPAPER? Even if you answered yes to all of the above questions, you are probably less of a cat person than the person who just bought a crazy big painting of cats for a crazy amount of money.

What’s believed to be the world’s largest cat painting (quite a title indeed) was auctioned off at Sotheby’s on Monday in New York. And it was a *bit* more expensive than your average cat painting: $826,000, to be exact. That’s because the composition, entitled My Wife’s Lovers, was painted by Austrian artist Carl Kahler in 1893, and it’s so big (227 pounds, 72 inches by 102 inches!) that it had to be hung on a specially constructed wall.

Such a massive painting has got to have massive history. According to Polly Sartori, head of 19th-century paintings for Sotheby’s in New York, Kahler moved to the west coast of the U.S. in 1881 with the intention of painting nature scenes in Yosemite National Park. However, when he met San Fransisco art collector Kate Birdall Johnson, he got different inspiration entirely . . . of a more feline variety.

“He was invited to her cat ranch,” Sartori told CBC. Um, can we be invited to a cat ranch?

Mrs. Johnson was incredibly wealthy, and she was looking for an artist to help her with a special project, Sartori explained:

Every single cat in the picture is a Persian or an Angora, all with different expressions on their faces. Naturally, Kahler probably sketched out each cat individually. “No way did 42 cats sit still to have their portrait painted,” Sartori told CBC, laughing.

So really, Johnson was probably the biggest cat enthusiast in history. Consider this: she had way more than 42 cats — 350, to be exact. And the very center cat, named Sultan, was her ultimate prize, costing her $3,000 — and that was back in the 1800s, so that’s a lot of money.

Naturally, people were totally entranced by the massive cat portrait when it went up for display at Sotheby’s. “When My Wife’s Lovers first went on exhibit on Friday, two women showed up with folding chairs and just sat and stared at the painting, taking in each different cat and their painted personality,” CBC reported.

We’d be entranced, too. It’s pretty much the cat’s meow. (Sorry, had to.)

(Image via Instagram.)

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