Object of the Month
Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy was a devout Catholic, and felt that religion was an important element in raising her children. She said of them “I wanted them to form a habit of making God and religion a part of their daily lives, not something to be reserved only for Sundays.”
Despite Mrs. Kennedy’s feelings on this matter, there are surprisingly few visual indications of her religiosity in the Beals Street house. One of the few overtly religious themed items on display is pictured above; a reproduction of Raphael’s 1504-1505 painting “The Madonna of the Grand Duke.” The painting is so titled because in the 18th century it was owned by Grand Duke Ferdinand III of Tuscany. The original work is currently in the Palatine Gallery in Palazzo Pitti, Florence, Italy. Mrs. Kennedy may have viewed it while she was on a tour of Europe with her father in 1908, when she was just eighteen years old, a trip during which she and her father had a private audience with Pope Saint Pius X.
This copy of Raphael's painting hangs above the bed in the master bedroom in which future President John F. Kennedy was born. A similarly themed piece hangs over the other bed in the room. The copy was made in Florence, but was procured in 1967 from the Jordan Marsh store in Boston, probably with the assistance of Mr. Robert Luddington who was the head of Jordan Marsh's interior decorating department and worked closely with Mrs. Kennedy during her restoration of the Beals Street house.
Did You Know?
While many American women-including Jack Kennedy’s grandmother, Mary Kennedy-supported woman’s suffrage, the US Constitution didn’t extend the vote to women until 1920. Years later, in 1963, Jack signed a Civil Rights Bill to guarantee every American’s right to participate fully in civic life.