Dog days are over: Wyeth's 'Kleberg' portrait bounds to $218,000 in US Art sale

Christie's held a successful auction of American Art last week, realising a total of over $3m.  Natives flocked to the New York City event, as well as collectors and art investors from across the globe.  Featuring a variety of paintings, drawings and sculpture, there were a number of notable sales.

The most expensive lot in the auction was arguably the strangest.  Jamie Wyeth's striking and quirky portrait of his wife's dog Kleberg was created in 1984. 

The dog stares straight ahead, in a somewhat unnerving manner.  Set against a white backdrop, Kleberg appears to sit stock still for Wyeth - however, it is a study and it is of course unlikely that the dog posed for too long. 

Despite this probable reality, the effect of the picture remains.  It had a moderate estimate of $40,000-60,000; this was smashed by the hammer price of $218,500.


Jamie Wyeth's dog
'Barking Mad' - The rather odd image of Kleberg the Dog

Another lot achieving a remarkably high price was the bronze sculpture 'Iris' created by Carl Paul Jennewein, circa 1942.  The unusual sculpture depicts the goddess of the rainbow without the traditional wings used for Greek deities.  Instead, Iris is a young woman, stood on her toes with arms aloft.

His painstaking research - he used 17 different models to perfect the casting - is obvious in the craftsmanship of this 87 inch tall masterpiece.  Like Wyeth's painting, the estimate was made to look meagre; expected to realise only $20,000-30,000, 'Iris' was purchased for $110,500.

These sorts of feats appear to indicate not only that American Art is in a healthy state but that the fine art market remains buoyant, despite testing economic times and lacklustre investment opportunities in traditional areas likes stocks and shares.


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