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Jackie Kennedy 2pp ALS on "Picasso's Women"

2pp autograph letter signed by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (1929-1994) as "Jackie" verso. Undated, but likely dating between 1977-1987. Inscribed on both sides of a single leaf of "Doubleday & Company, Inc. / Jacqueline Onassis" stationery. A very clean draft with only two cross-outs/edits. Expected light wear, else near fine. 5.5" x 8.375." Provenance: From the collection of Ron Hoskins, assassinologist.

The former First Lady served as an Associate Editor at Doubleday & Company, the New York-based publishing company, between 1977 and her death in 1994. This rough draft of an internal memorandum was destined for Kenneth McCormick (1906-1997), the former Editor-in-Chief at Doubleday between 1942-1971, and its Senior Consulting Editor until 1987.

During Jackie's 19-year-long career at Doubleday, she was responsible for publishing nearly 100 titles of fiction and non-fiction. The books on art history, decorative arts, music, opera, dance, literature, poetry, fashion, travel, and history reflected Jackie's intense fascination with the humanities. Thus, a book exploring the role of women in inspiring the work of Spanish artist Pablo Picasso was entirely consistent with Jackie's interests.

It does not appear that the book discussed in this letter to Ken McCormick was ever published by Doubleday. (Ironically, John Richardson did write a treatise entitled "Picasso's Women: Fernande to Jacqueline" that exactly aligned with the scope of Jackie's project, but it was published by Rizzoli New York and Larry Gagosian in 2020, not by Doubleday in the period ca. 1977-1987.)

Jackie wrote in part, with unchanged spelling and punctuation:

"Picasso's Women

Rosamond Bernier will be unable to do it because of over committment [sic] and abusing confidentiality. She suggested John Richardson. Did you read his superb review of the Picasso show in the N.Y. Review? It was called The Show of Shows. He has half done a book on the Picasso portraits. He knew all the women and has notes from Picasso himself. He is finishing a written book for Random House and will check with his agent to see if he could give an art book elsewhere [over] He is the most entertaining writer, witty, gossipy and also an authority on the subject.

Rosamond Bernier said she felt so strongly that the subject mustnt [sic] be trivialized into la petite histoire, a sensationalized description of Picasso's bed-mates.

'He was a towering genius -- The writer must properly relate those women to his work'

Now I'm holding my breath until I hear from John Richardson. If he says yes I'll get you his N.Y. Review piece. I think he could do a fabulous book


Rosamond Bernier (1916-2016) was Jackie's first choice to write the book. Bernier was a personal friend of Picasso, Matisse, Braque, Miro, and Giacometti among others, and she also had extensive writing, editorial, and art historical experience. Bernier's personal reminiscences of some of the twentieth century's most influential artists became her "Matisse, Picasso, Miro--As I Knew Them" (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991).

British art historian John Richardson (1924-2019) was another personal friend of Picasso, as well as his definitive biographer. The "written book for Random House" that Jackie mentions Richardson is working on is almost certainly what would become his four-volume biography of the artist, "A Life of Picasso." Volumes I and II would be published at Random House in 1991 and 1997.

As an editor, Jackie was extremely hands-on, contributing not only editorial suggestions, but also proof reading, copy editing, and even weighing in on creative questions concerning layout or typeface. The letter about the "Picasso's Women" project underscores Jackie's comfort level with the subject matter--modern art--as well as the high level of her engagement with contemporary art exhibits and art historical criticism. She was uniquely qualified to steward the project towards completion, and clearly in her element.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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