Many of the photographs identified as "Portraits" were taken for various publication purposes. The earliest appeared on the cover of the May 1965 Radcliffe Quarterly, showing a young d'Harnoncourt at work in the library, pencil in hand and a flower in her hair. The credit line does not identify the sitter or the photographer, but simply states "Spring at Radcliffe." However, written on the verso of the photo is "Olive Pierce Photo 1965." Although a line is drawn through the name, so too is d'Harnoncourt's, which is also noted on the back. Since we can identify d'Harnoncourt as the sitter, it is likely that the photographer was Pierce whose images of New England life and the repercussions of the 1990 Gulf War are in the collections of several museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The 1982 portrait of d'Harnoncourt that appeared in most of the articles about her appointment as Museum director was taken by John Condax. In the 1930s, Condax, accompanied by the Italian photographer Tina Modotti, traveled to Mexico to photograph its landscape and people. He also lectured at the Barnes Foundation. Contemporary photographers represented here include Andrea Baldeck and Michael Bryant. Bryant's 2007 image of d'Harnoncourt standing in a gallery of the Museum's recently opened Perelman Building is the last formal portrait of her.
Perhaps the most unconventional portrait of d'Harnoncourt was taken by a most unconventional artist. In 1979 d'Harnoncourt received a color slide of a picture taken of her the previous year at an event at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in Philadelphia. The image of d'Harnoncourt in flat planes of neon colors is Warholesque in its style. (A scan of the slide was made during processing and included in the folder.) According to the letter accompanying the slide, the photographer was "Bettina," writing from New York City's Chelsea Hotel. Because of this unique address, Bettina is no doubt the same reclusive artist featured in two recent documentaries. Released in 2008 and 2010 both films tell the story of a woman said to have been the most beautiful resident of the legendary hotel whose art went unappreciated and who therefore "[hid] herself away in her studio for over 40 years."
Portraits of Joseph Rishel are also included. Of note are those taken by Rishel's friend and professional photographer Samuel Green in 1976 when Rishel, Green and d'Harnoncourt were guests at Glenveagh, a magnificent estate in Ireland owned by long-time PMA associate Henry P. McIlhenny. In the distance, in two of the portraits Green snapped of Rishel is the hint of a figure. According to an account by Rishel at the time these photographs were being processed, the distant figure was Greta Garbo, the reclusive starlet of Hollywood's golden age. Garbo came at the invitation of Green, and in respect of the actress's famed declaration that she "wanted to be left alone," Green photographed Rishel with Garbo without interfering with the actress's legendary request for privacy.