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Max G. Lowenherz collection of Kennedy family photographs

Identifier: PIMS-0132

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

The Max G. Lowenherz collection of Kennedy family photographs (approximately 1954-2001; bulk: 1954) consists of 605 original negatives shot on 2-1/4” and 35mm black and white film by Orlando Suero; contact prints of all the negatives made by Three Lions, Inc. (possibly by Suero); and 8x10”, 5x7” and 4x5” prints made by Three Lions. It is probable that these last prints were the ones offered again and again to the press and are the ones eventually offered for sale at Sotheby's; however, the date of their printing is unknown.

After acquiring the collection in 1989, the Peabody Institute added a set of prints made on double-weight fiber-based archival paper, toned with selenium. These prints were made by Frank Armstrong from a selection of 50 of the negatives and range in size from 8x10" to 16x20". These prints were displayed by Peabody in the 1990 exhibition. These and other subsequent prints made by Peabody for promotional or marketing purposes are included in the Lowenherz collection.


  • Creation: 1954-2001
  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1954


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for use at the Arthur Friedheim Library Archives of the Peabody Institute. Contact for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. All requests for permission to publish materials in this collection must be submitted in writing to the archivist of the Arthur Friedheim Library. Contact for more information.

Biographical / Historical

The Max G. Lowenherz collection of Kennedy family photographs was created by photographer Orlando Suero. From late 1953 to early 1955, Suero was a staff photographer for Three Lions Picture Agency, Inc., a New York–based agency that specialized mainly in photographing great works of art for calendars and greeting cards. In 1954, at one of the regular staff meetings, Suero suggested to Max G. Lowenherz, the owner of Three Lions, that he do a photo essay on a young U.S. senator and his wife: John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy. Lowenherz was reluctant. It was shortly after the Kennedys were married and he was convinced that the press had already saturated the public with photos of the couple. Suero, however, was convinced that he could produce a series of unique, beautiful, and marketable photographs of the Kennedys. Lowenherz allowed the photographer to contact the senator.

John F. Kennedy was at the beginning of his political career and eager for national exposure, so he welcomed the idea of a photo essay and promised his full cooperation. Thus, in May 1954, Orlando Suero came to Washington, D.C., and spent several days with Senator and Mrs. Kennedy, photographing them on more than twenty occasions. Suero was given almost unlimited access to the Kennedys' personal lives, photographing them at small dinners with their friends and relatives, alone together in the backyard of their Georgetown home on Sunday morning, and playing in the park with Robert and Ethel Kennedy, who lived nearby.

Originally only a handful of papers and magazines ran a few photographs from the shoot in their Sunday social sections. Lowenherz's original reservations had proved correct: the press was not, at the moment, interested in the young senator and his wife. The photographs were set aside until the time of Kennedy's election to the presidency in 1960. Again the photographs were offered to the press, but they were turned down for more recent, more significant photos. After the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963, Lowenherz tried a third time to sell some of the photos. This time, they were overlooked in favor of the now famous "White House" photos by Jacques Lowe. An attempt by Lowenherz in 1975 to sell the collection at auction at Sotheby's resulted in the unauthorized reproduction by UPI of some of the photos, which were then reproduced in several European magazines. Still, a 1989 examination of over 40 books on the Kennedys revealed not one single reproduction of a Suero/Three Lions photograph.

After the dissolution of Three Lions, the Kennedy photographs remained the possession of Mr. Lowenherz, who gave them to the Peabody Institute in August 1989. Peabody held a gala exhibition of a selection of 50 prints in May 1990, the first time many of these images had ever been seen by the public. In 2001, Johns Hopkins University Press published Camelot at Dawn, a book featuring selected images from Suero’s photographs and text by Peabody Institute public relations director Anne Garside.


3.81 Cubic Feet (10 boxes; 1 binder)

Language of Materials



The Max G. Lowenherz collection of Kennedy family photographs contains photographs by Orlando Suero of John F. and Jacqueline Kennedy in May 1954. Suero photographed the Kennedys on more than twenty occasions over the span of five days in Washington, D.C., capturing them at John F. Kennedy's U.S. Senate office, at small dinners with the Kennedys' friends and relatives, alone together in the backyard of their Georgetown home on Sunday morning, and playing in the park with Robert and Ethel Kennedy, who lived nearby. The photographs were captured for the Three Lions Picture Agency, owned by Lowenherz, but were largely unpublished when Lowenherz donated the collection to the Peabody Institute in 1989.

Included are 605 original negatives shot on 2-1/4” and 35mm black and white film by Orlando Suero, corresponding contact prints of all original negatives, more than 100 prints made by the Three Lions Picture Agency, and various reprints made by the Peabody Institute for exhibition in the 1990s.


The 605 original negatives and their corresponding contact prints are arranged in groups corresponding as closely as possible to the original photo sessions conducted by Orlando Suero in May 1954. Some small-format prints made by the Peabody Institute (excepting the archival prints made by Frank Armstrong) are stored in this arrangement as well. Large-format exhibition prints are not sorted.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Max G. Lowenherz in 1989.

Existence and Location of Copies

Many images have been scanned and are stored offline. Contact for more information.

Related Materials

The 2001 book Camelot at Dawn, featuring approximately 100 photographs from the collection, is available through the library catalog.

An unprocessed collection of clippings about JFK, which includes various publications that contain images from the Lowenherz collection, is also available at the Arthur Friedheim Library Archives upon request.

Processing Information

Original negatives and prints processed by Gerry A. Stacy in August 1994. Exhibition prints and other 1990s prints minimally processed by archives staff, 1990s-2022.

Guide to the Max G. Lowenherz collection of Kennedy family photographs
Matt Testa
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Peabody Archives Repository

Peabody Institute
1 E. Mount Vernon Place
Baltimore MD 21202 USA