One day in the early 1980s, Kleberg, a yellow Lab, got a little too close to the easel of artist Jamie Wyeth (son of renowned painter Andrew Wyeth), and Wyeth decided to paint him, too. Wyeth painted a thin black ring around Kleberg’s eye to make him look more like Petey, the dog on the Little Rascals — one of Wyeth’s favorite shows.
I thought it looked so wonderful, he told the Associated Press.
The circle suited him very nicely, as you can see from the work above. Wyeth went on to paint many works featuring Kleberg and his funny eye. Wyeth switched Kleberg’s real-life eye “makeup” from paint to mustache dye because it lasted a good month. So every month we would have to touch up his circle, Wyeth said. Kleberg sported his distinctive and endearing marking for the rest of his years. (And it apparently never bothered his eye, so no worries…)
Throughout Kleberg’s life, people never failed to be amazed at his distinctive “marking.”
The fascination continues. A study made from a mix of gouache, watercolor, and india ink sold last week at a Christie’s auction for $218,500 — more than five times the pre-sale estimate of $40,000. Without his marking, it would not have been likely to catch so many eyes.
The work is a study for the larger oil painting called Kleberg, which pairs Kleberg with an old-fashioned straw behive, in front of some old books.
You can see more of Wyeth’s beautiful works here. For more insight about the large Kleberg oil painting, and a better look at its details, check out the Terra Foundation for American Art site.
And that, my Dogster friends, is your art appreciation class for the month of March. 🙂