Incredible, never-before-released original photographic proof booklet, 10 x 3, containing 27 unique crystal-clear images produced directly from the original negatives. Booklet contains nine 10 x 3 sheets of Mimosa Kiel photo paper, each composed of three separate 3 x 2 images (a mixture of vertical and horizontal). The lot also includes 15 high-quality original photographs of various finishes; two are 2 x 3.5 and the remaining thirteen are 5.75 x 3.75. Nine of them are not included in the booklet itself, while the other six are. These unpublished images, taken by Washington Post heiress Katharine Graham at Bunny Mellon’s Cape Cod beach shack, show JFK and Jackie on an August 1961 visit.
The cover of the booklet bears a handwritten notation stating: “The President of the USA and Mrs. Kennedy taken at Mrs. Melon [sic] in Mass. (Cotuit), Aug. 1961, Photos by Mrs. Graham.” Owner notations of NYC photographer Raul Echeverria, from where this set of photographic proofs originates, are written at the bottom right. Additionally present is the original manila envelope, 4.25 x 5.25, that the photographs were housed in, reading “15 pictures, The Kennedys, 1961, The President.”
Pictured in these scarce photos are: Jack’s closest sister Eunice (shown in a floral patterned sleeveless shirt); the Kennedy’s powerful friends Mr. and Mrs. Rachel Bunny Mellon (Paul is pictured wearing sunglasses and across from Jackie, Bunny is pictured wearing a sun hat); Washington Post owners Katherine and Philip Graham (Katherine in a white dress and Phil in a checkered button-down shirt); and artist William Walton (close friend of Jackie, shown shirtless on the larger boat with the first lady). Besides the Kennedy, Mellon, and Graham couples, also present in the photos are three of the four Graham children (likely, Elizabeth [Lally], Donald, and William).
The astonishing images include: Jackie smoking freely; the first lady sitting cross legged, bare feet and hands clearly on display; a back-brace-free, shirtless JFK swimming (proof strip notated on reverse, “hold”), Jack enjoying himself on a yacht and exhibiting uncharacteristic strength by pulling himself up the boat ladder; the president sitting at a round table whilst intently speaking with Bunny Mellon about redesigning the White House Rose Garden; and JFK smoking a cigar and behind the wheel of a small boat. All but one of the photos (contained in the proof book) picture Jack and Jackie, either together or separate. Most images show the Kennedys and their friends gathered on the back patio of the Mellon’s quaint beach shack, but there are a few on the beach front, in the water, on a larger boat, and on a small boat with just Jack, Jackie, and Eunice Kennedy.
The 26 acre Mellon estate, set in Cape Cod’s Osterville, and featuring 1,000 feet of continuous shoreline, was sold in 2013 for nearly 20 million. Despite that, the here-offered photos were unpretentiously shot at the sprawling estate’s beach shack. The Mellon home was one town over from the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port, rendering it prime territory for the Kennedy’s to make a quick trip over and spend some quality time. This would explain why a few of the photos picture only Jack, Jackie, and Eunice Kennedy boarding a small boat together—their transportation to the Kennedy compound. In her memoir, Personal History (page 288), Katharine Graham recalled the time spent with the Kennedys and Mellons depicted in these spectacular photographs. Cotuit (as notated on the cover of the photo booklet) is the name of the village where the Grahams stayed that summer in a rented two-house compound. A photo of Phil Graham and Jack talking on the beach (similar to, but not matching any in this series) was published in her memoir.
These exceptionally private, unrehearsed moments of Camelot’s first couple exude a carefree happiness seldom found during their brief White House tenure. Jackie, the iconically refined first lady, is pictured doing many things she took great care to shield the public from: her incessant smoking habit and large feet and hands (actions and bodily attributes of which she was extremely self-conscience). Here Jack revealed his brace-free chest and permeated the vitality we prefer to remember him by. Among these close friends—Washington’s elite—no one is trying to make a good impression. Such insight into John and Jackie Kennedy’s behind-the-scenes behavior could scarcely be imagined.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.