His golden retriever, Liberty, is nowhere to be seen but another of Gerald Ford's favorites his pipe - is prominent in the official portrait of him that will one day hang in the White House. A photograph of the oil painting was released yesterday.
Currently being completed by New York portrait painter Everett Raymond Kinstler, who already has 28 official Washington portraits to his credit, the painting shows Ford smiling and seated, wearing a pin-striped suit and holding a pipe. He is sitting for Kinstler at the Ford's Vail, Colo., vacation retreat.
Also released was a picture of Felix de Cossio's as yet uncompleted portrait of the former First Lady. A Cuban who fled his homeland when Fidel Castro came to power, de Cossio says he will add some flowers and a Louis XV chair to the portrait, which also will hang in the White Houe.
Ford rejected an earlier portrait of him painted by American artist John Ulbright, who also did an earlier portrait of Betty Ford. No explanation was given when Ford decided against the Ulbright likeness other than that some considered it unflattering to the extent that, as one viewer put it, "Ronald Reagan would have loved it."
Susan Ford had urged Ulbright to paint her father's dog, Liberty, at the former President's feet, but the artist balked.
"That's the cliche of the European aristocracy and nobility," he was quoted as saying at the time. "It's the way the Prince of Wales was painted, with his faithful afghan at his side." White House aides of Ford were in agreement. One was quoted as saying that "it would be more realistic if you painted (then White House Chief of Staff Don) Rumsfeld stretched out at the President's feet."
Ford's rejection of the Ulbright portrait was done without acrimony and in fact the artist, who lives on the Spanish island of Mallorca, later was invited to a state dinner which the Ford's gave for Spanish King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia.
A similar action by the late Lyndon B. Johnson made headlines in 1967 when he blew up over New Mexico artist Peter Hurd's portrayal of him.
"That's the ugliest thing I ever saw," Johnson said, banning the portrait from the White House. A year later, a second LBJ portrait - this time by New York artist Elizabeth Shoumatoff, was unveiled.It now hangs in the Executive Mansion, commissioned, as the Ford portraits have been, by the White House Historical Assn.