This portrait of Marilyn Monroe posing as Jackie Kennedy is from what's known as “The Lost Sitting,” because these transparencies from Monroe's final photo sessions (“The Last Sitting”) with Bert Stern were missing for decades. A portfolio of prints from the session is up for auction next week.
Despite the signature dark wig, it’s striking how little Monroe looks like Kennedy. With her barely parted mouth, off-the-shoulder blouse, and possibly sprawled (though concealed) legs, she not surprisingly appears more sexually suggestive than the first lady. Again not surprisingly, she’s also more vulnerable, and childlike. And she’s sweeter, a characteristic that points up an essential contrast between the glamour of these two icons. Jackie may have spoken in a similarly breathy whisper, but she carried herself like a steely aristocrat. Here, the clothes are less like armor, the abundant pearls less restrained (and more obviously faux), the hands unconcealed by gloves, the body language more open. Monroe was not just a sex symbol but a comedienne whose screen persona appealed to women as well as men.