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930301

John F. Kennedy

JFK inscribes and signs a Philippe Halsman original portrait

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1917-1963.  35th President of the United States, 1961-1963.  Stunning 8” x 10”  Philippe Halsman silver gelatin portrait of Kennedy inscribed and signed To Patricia / Keating / with very best / wishes / John Kennedy. With original transmittal letter.

This beautiful photograph is valuable for its art as well as for its autographic significance.  It is a magnificent vintage original black-and-white portrait of a pensive Kennedy, perhaps with a slight smile, by famed New York photographer Philippe Halsman, whose imprint appears in the lower left corner. 

Kennedy sent this photograph to Keating on December 4, 1956, when he was a United States Senator from Massachusetts.  The original transmittal letter, secretarially signed for Kennedy, accompanies the photograph.

Halsman is noted for his bold images, including his portraits of Salvador Dali, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and even Richard Nixon jumping in the air.  From the 1940s through the 1970s, Halsmans portraits graced the covers and pages of magazines such as Life—for which he produced an astounding 101 cover photographs—Look, Esquire, and the Saturday Evening Post. He made many of the familiar portraits of Marilyn Monroe, and his photographs of the likes of Albert Einstein, Andy Warhol, Frank Sinatra, and others are classics.  In 1958, a Popular Photography poll named Halsman one of the Worlds Ten Greatest Photographers.

Halsman’s photographs thus are collectible items in their own right.  His unsigned images have sold for substantial sums at auction.  Portraits of Dali, for example, brought as high as $18,000; Giorgio de Chirico and his wife, $14,350; Einstein, $8,000; Elizabeth Taylor, $5,676; Monroe, $2,500; and Audrey Hepburn, $2,165. A Halsman photograph of Vladimir Horowitz’s hands, shot for the Saturday Evening Post in 1966, sold for $5,625 at Christie’s in New York in 2008.

Added to this is the fact that Kennedy’s genuinely signed photographs are scarce, given his use of secretaries to sign for him in both the Senate and White House and his notorious use of the Autopen.  It is hard to think that Kennedy would have delegated to a secretary the signing of a Halsman portrait, and indeed he signed this one himself.  His handwriting even exhibits a degree of care and legibility that it rarely had.

Kennedy has boldly inscribed and signed this photo.  It has staple holes in the blank area at the upper left and minor dings.  Overall it is in fine condition.  It has been exquisitely double matted in Bordeaux and marine blue suede, with an inlaid champagne silver fillet and an engraved identification plate, and framed in a champagne and black wood frame.

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