Tucked between two books in my mother’s studio, I found three magazine pages filled with delightful watercolor illustrations of Jacqueline Kennedy’s March 1962 trip to India that had been torn from the July 1962 edition of McCall’s. Titled Mrs. Kennedy Goes Abroad, the paintings are the work of French artist Jacqueline Duhème, “formerly a model and protégée of Matisse’s,” who accompanied the iconic First Lady and her sister, Princess Lee Radziwill, on the historic goodwill visit. Duhème’s richly detailed and colorful paintings are charming, conveying more of a sense of adventure and magic than the plentiful contemporary photographs.

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These are just a few of the illustrations from the McCall’s article. The caption for the night scene at the Taj Mahal (3rd from the bottom), accidentally cut off when I took the photo (I am currently scannerless), seems particularly sad with the clarity of time: “A moonlight visit to the Taj Mahal, romantic memorial to an emperor’s love for his wife. Mrs. Kennedy, rapt, said she had no words for her feelings”

It amazes me that these creased and torn pages have survived for 54 years which included numerous attempts by my mother to organise her studio and one involved move. They obviously meant something to her and they mean something to me: confirmation that we really had a lot in common. My studio, like hers, is filled with bits and bobs of inspiration torn from magazines and printed from online sources. You never know where the next idea will come from. I would have saved this article, too.

In 1998, Jacqueline Duhème compiled her artwork from this trip into a wonderful book, Mrs. Kennedy Goes Abroad, by Vibhuti Patel and with an introduction by John Kenneth Galbraith. There are many more paintings and lots of photographs, too. You can see it here.

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