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Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Monday, May 09, 2016

the biggest cat painting in the world

all photos taken by me
I finally saw it:  Carl Kahler's "My Wife's Lovers" (1891).  It's big all right:  6 x 8.5 feet, and even so I don't know if he got all 42 cats in there.  (Did he?)

As you've probably heard, this painting wasn't originally named "My Wife's Lovers."  The wife in question was Kate Birdsall Johnson (1833-94), whose husband Robert C. Johnson had died 2 years before, but not before coming up with the collective nickname for the Persian/Angora clowder.  The center of the tribe was Sultan (shown above), bought in Paris for some amount so ridiculously huge apparently no one thought to record it.

I was able to get up close to the painting and take a couple of detail shots.  This is a work of European Academicism, a prettified realism, the kind of thing you'd expect of a high-ticket turn of the century commission.  No surprises, and a lot of technical excellence.

You should read the excellent article that Portland Art Museum posted about this work.  (I would like to note that I hadn't been there in years and was thrilled by the overall collection - there's a Barbara Hepworth I particularly loved.)

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