Famous Artists: President JFK

JFK watercolor

JFK watercolor

It’s always a pleasure to see professional artists and to enjoy their beautiful work. Many people don’t realize, however, that there are many hidden artists out there and some great artwork from unlikely corners.

Take President John F. Kennedy. Did you realize that he painted? The story behind the paintings is actually a great one. As a young bride, Jacqueline Kennedy bought a paint set for her husband for Christmas ’53. Competitive by nature, the Kennedy clan descended on the paint set, trying to see who could make the most paintings in the shortest amount of time. As reported through the Shapell Manuscript Foundation, Jacqueline was horrified – she wanted this to be a way for Jack to find peace and quiet reflection with his painting set.

Her wish was soon granted, as Kennedy took up painting in the spring of ’54 and started painting even more after his back surgery a year later. He painted mostly seascapes. This painting, in the possession of the Shapell Manuscript Foundation, and featured now as we approach the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination, is of the Kennedy Palm Beach house. It was painting during his 1955 stay and was given to Dot Turbridy. Turbridy was a young Irish widow of riding champion Captain Michael Trubridy who died during a riding accident in April 1954.

The painting was signed “Jack” and was inscribed to Dot (Tubridy). It was one of the last paintings that JFK made before entering the White House and becoming too busy with many other pursuits.

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