Nov
12
2015

Pet owners often stand solidly in one of two courts—cats or dogs—and today, their passion floods the Internet. In 1891, when images could not “go viral,” that passion still existed, especially for one wealthy American philanthropist, art collector, and animal lover.

Kate Birdsall Johnson loved her cats, and she had that love captured on canvas, apparently, it appears, for future generations to appreciate.

The painting, My Wife’s Lovers, a 6-by-8½-foot oil painting weighing in at a hefty 227 pounds, was sold at Sotheby’s on Nov. 4 for $826,000 to an anonymous California buyer, reported The History Blog. The sales price was triple the estimated selling price.

The cats captured on canvas number 42, all of them Angoras, and they represent a fraction of their owner’s total number of feline companions. (Johnson purchased the cats during her trips abroad to Europe.) When Johnson died, her will included a bequest of $20,000—over half a million dollars in today’s currency—to be used to care for the cats, reported The History Blog.

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