New York, 1922-2015

Study for John F. Kennedy's official White House portrait. Signed and dated lower right "AAS '70".

The official White House portraits of both President Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline were painted by Aaron Shikler. Mrs. Kennedy was introduced to the master portraitist's work by members of the Lawford branch of the Kennedy family, and in 1967 she commissioned the artist to paint portraits of her children and a family portrait for her personal collection.
In 1970, Mrs. Kennedy was a member of the committee that selected Shikler for President Kennedy's official posthumous portrait, which was to hang in the White House in perpetuity.
Upon his selection, Shikler produced five studies to present to Mrs. Kennedy: two larger works, both likely candidates for the official portrait, and three smaller works. The portrait offered here is one of the two larger studies presented to Mrs. Kennedy. The other larger study was selected for the official portrait, the iconic view of the president, depicted with his head bowed and his arms folded across his chest.

Shikler, who had never met the president, created the studies and the final portrait based on photographs. He told the Washington Post in 1971, "I painted him with his head bowed, not because I think of him as a martyr, but because I wanted to show him as a president who was a thinker. A thinking president is a rare thing."

Shikler completed the official White House portrait of Mrs. Kennedy at the same time, and both were unveiled February 4, 1971. Mrs. Kennedy's portrait, which depicts her in a full-length peach gown, hangs in the East Wing. Shikler also painted a posthumous portrait of Robert F. Kennedy, which hangs in the Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building, as well as portraits of President Ronald Reagan, First Lady Nancy Reagan and Queen Noor of Jordan. Shikler is among the most important American portraitists of the 20th Century.

Guernsey's, Artifacts and Documents Relating to the Life and Career of John F. Kennedy, March 18-19, 1998, Lot #152
White chalk and charcoal on gray-green paper by J. Green & Son, England, 32" x 23". Framed 40" x 31".

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August 3, 2018 10:00 AM EDT
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