BEAUTIFUL LARGE VINTAGE PHOTOGRAPHIC PRINT BY CAMELOT PHOTOGRAPHER MARK SHAW OF JOHN F. KENNEDY STOPPING BY TO CHECK ON HIS FRIENDS’ PROGRESS DURING THEIR 50-MILE “KENNEDY MARCH,” WITH SHAW’S STUDIO STAMP
(KENNEDY, John F.) SHAW, Mark. Gelatin silver print. New York: Mark Shaw, 1963. Black-and-white photographic print, measuring 13-1/2 by 9 inches. $6500.
Vintage photographic print, taken near the Sunshine Parkway, depicting John F. Kennedy stopping to check on his friends as they took a rest during a 50-mile walk from Palm Beach to Miami. Bears Shaw’s own studio stamp and “Private Print” on verso.
Photographed in 1963 after the President issued his “challenge” regarding the 50-mile/24-hour walk, this image was evidently printed by photographer Mark Shaw later in 1963, most likely in preparation for his book, The John F. Kennedys. The gelatin silver print shows John Kennedy after he left his yacht in Palm Beach to check on his friends’ progress on their 50-mile walk. In 1963, after learning that Theodore Roosevelt once challenged U.S. Marine officers to finish 50 miles in 20 hours in an executive order, Kennedy began a three-way communication with General David M. Shoup, his marine commandant, and his somewhat portly press secretary, Pierre Salinger. He expressed concern about the fitness levels of the marines and the White House staff and his desire to examine both. Salinger publicly turned down the opportunity to do a 50-mile walk, citing Kennedy’s own brother, Robert, as an example of the White House staff’s fitness. Robert, then Attorney General, had done the march on a whim, completing it in leather oxfords, in the snow. However, Kennedy remained rather taken with the idea and, in 1963, said, “I think most American people are so weak, they can’t even walk 50 miles within 20 hours.” Immediately, the so-called “Kennedy March” became all the rage. This photograph was taken at a Kennedy March that included Secret Service Agent Clint Hill, Charles Spalding (the President’s Harvard roommate), and Prince “Stash” Radziwell (Kennedy’s brother-in-law), as well as Kennedy’s personal physician, Max Jacobson, who began the walk, but only finished 11 miles before turning his ankle. Upon completion of the walk, Kennedy awarded his friends inscribed teabags in place of medals. “Just as Abraham Lincoln thought Mathew Brady’s photography won him the presidency, so Jackie Kennedy thought Mark Shaw’s pictures helped her husband win the 1960 election. ‘They really should be in the National Gallery!’ she enthused… Shaw was very much a part of Camelot and his most famous still photography is associated with that period” (Sullivan, 492). Shaw began his career as a fashion photographer for publications including Harper’s Bazaar, Mademoiselle, and LIFE Magazine. His talent for discovering new designers and trends caught the eye of Jackie Kennedy, who was growing increasingly visible as the wife of a senator and who was already on her way to becoming a style icon. In 1959, seeking to bolster JFK’s presidential campaign, the Kennedys agreed to let Shaw have unrestricted access to their home and lives in order to do a photo-essay for LIFE called A Frontrunner’s Wife. Shaw proved unintrusive, managing to take extraordinary candid shots that Jackie compared to the work of Caravaggio. Shaw quickly became a family friend and was a frequent guest in the Kennedy home. Allowed complete access to the family, Shaw began to take photographs of the Kennedys in Georgetown and in Washington; on vacation in Hyannis Port and elsewhere; and even in the White House once JFK was elected President. In 1964, the year after this print was produced, the image appeared as a half-tone in The John F. Kennedys, a photobook that Shaw compiled just after JFK’s assassination for Farrar, Straus as a tribute to the family he had grown to love. After JFK died, Shaw became quite protective of the Kennedy prints and put together just five complete albums of the photographs used in the books to be given to four members of the Kennedy family and Dr. Max Jacobson, Kennedy’s personal physician. As Shaw died unexpectedly in 1969 at the age of 47, Kennedy prints bearing his studio stamps are quite rare. After JFK died, Shaw became quite protective of the Kennedy prints and put together just five complete albums of the photographs used in the books to be given to four members of the Kennedy family and Kennedy’s physician. As Shaw died unexpectedly in 1969 at age 47, Kennedy prints bearing his studio stamps are quite rare. Shaw studio stamp dated 1963 and “Private Print” stamp on verso. Red and black pencil labeling and measurements on verso.