Portrait of a Family
On Sale: November 1, 2007
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In the early 1960s, Richard Avedon was commissioned by
Harper's Bazaar to create Observations, a
column that consisted of a series of nine photographic
essays. The subject of the first essay was John F. Kennedy
and his young family, who sat for formal black-and-white
portraits just three weeks prior to Kennedy's presidential
inauguration. Six images appeared in the magazine's February
That same day, Avedon created more
informal color portraits of Kennedy and his family at the
Kennedy compound in Palm Beach. One of these images ran as
the cover of LOOK magazine's February 28 issue, with
photographs by Avedon inside. Just before the magazine hit
the newsstands and was delivered to over 6.5 million people,
a set of photographs, comprised mostly of the LOOK
images, was released by the White House and appeared in
newspapers across the country.
During his lifetime,
Richard Avedon donated more than two hundred images to the
Smithsonian Institution, including all of the photographs of
the Kennedy family sitting for Harper's Bazaar.
Smithsonian curator Shannon Thomas Perich has culled more
than seventy-five images from that donation for The
Kennedys: Portrait of a Family, making these stunning
photographs available for view for the first time. Perich's
introductory essay—accompanied by a wealth of archival
photographs of both Avedon and the Kennedy family—provides
historical background on the two sittings within a political
and cultural context and critically examines the work of one
of the finest photographers of the twentieth century. A
foreword by Robert Dallek, distinguished historian and
author of the bet-selling An Unfinished Life: John F.
Kennedy, 1917-1963, provides authoritative and
compelling insight to one of the most fascinating presidents
in American history.
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