Edward Guthrie Kennedy, dealer with H. Wunderlich & Co., New York.
Kennedy, a leading New York print dealer, represented the New York and Paris firm H. Wunderlich & Co. in their dealings with Whistler from 1885 on. He was on very close terms with Whistler and was christened 'O'K' by Beatrice Whistler after the vanished 'O'Kennedys' of Ireland. After Wunderlich's death he became head of the firm that now bears his name. At one time he was Head of the Grolier Club.
Kennedy first posed for Whistler in July 1892, for a drypoint, Man in an Arbour, but Whistler eventually destroyed the plate. Kennedy lent 13 Whistler etchings and drypoints to the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. He compiled the standard catalogue of Whistler's etchings, published in 1910, and edited and republished Way's catalogue of Whistler's lithographs, in 1914. His Whistler etchings and annotated correspondence with the artist were presented by him to New York Public Library in 1927.
Portrait of E. G. Kennedy (2) y404 was painted for the sitter; according to Kennedy, as thanks for services rendered, and he posed in Whistler's top floor studio in the rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs in 1893. In July 1893 Kennedy took his incomplete portrait back to New York. He brought it to Paris again next year when he continued the sittings; by 20 May 1894 Kennedy thought the portrait, which they called 'OK', needed one more session; he posed in the garden, he wrote, on one foot like 'John of Bologna's "Mercury"' (GUW #07233). It was continued in Paris the following summer.
Kennedy went to France with Whistler after the death of Beatrice in the summer of 1896, but the portrait was not continued. Kennedy thought it 'a "poor" portrait' and did not wish it to be exhibited in his lifetime.
Obituary, New York Times, 9 October 1932; Obituary, New York Herald Tribune, 10 October 1932; Young, Andrew McLaren, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer, and Hamish Miles, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1980 ; Kennedy, Edward G., The Etched Work of Whistler, New York, 1910 ; Kennedy, Edward G., The Lithographs by Whistler. Illustrated by Reproductions in Photogravure and Lithography Arranged According to the Catalogue by Thomas R. Way. With Additional Subjects not before Recorded, New York, 1914; Young, Andrew McLaren, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer, and Hamish Miles, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1980 .
NYPL Archives website.
Margaret F. MacDonald, Grischka Petri, Meg Hausberg, and Joanna Meacock, James McNeill Whistler: The Etchings, a catalogue raisonné, University of Glasgow, 2012, website.