Portrait of the Kennedys- page 2 | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian
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(Eric Jaffe)

Portrait of the Kennedys

Never-before-published photographs reveal a personal side to the first family

smithsonian.com

(Continued from page 1)

The photos of John and Jackie reveal a very different dynamic than in the photos that show his relationship with Caroline. In the contact sheet photos, Perich explains, you get to see how Jackie attempted to get Kennedy to relax.

"You get to see how he was fixed in who he was and what he was going to be," she says. "She tries to fit in with him, to find her place with him."

In total, only six photographs appeared in Harper's Bazaar. The Associated Press also ran a number of images, but the rest have been kept private until now.

It's not clear whether Avedon knew the importance of publishing these photos when he decided to give them and all the contact sheets from the photo session to Smithsonian in 1965 and 1966 in two donations to the National Museum of American History.

Since Avedon's donation, the photos have been loaned out and have been worked with on a limited basis. Therefore, there are only a handful of people who even knew of their existence. Jackie always tried to limit the photographing of her life and of her children's lives, and Avedon was very sensitive to that.

For years, Perich has given behind-the-scenes tours to visitors of the photographic history collection and has almost always included the Kennedy photos.

"Everybody—young, old—everybody relates to these photographs," she says.

The book's release 44 years after the so-called "Camelot" era shows that Americans' love of the Kennedys hasn't faded with time.

Presidential historian Robert Dallek, author of An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917 – 1963, wrote the foreword to The Kennedys and believes that the desire to see these photos has to do with not only an American love for the Kennedy family, but with the country's current mood.

"I think the country has a yearning for optimism and better days, better times and I think they still very much find that in John Kennedy and his family," Dallek says. "It always boosts you up when you can reach out to the past and find a heroic figure and family that makes you think of better days."

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