Barbara Hutton wearing the amazing Romanov Tiara

Barbara Woolworth Hutton (November 14, 1912 – May 11, 1979) was an American debutante/socialite, heiress and philanthropist. She was dubbed the “Poor Little Rich Girl”, first when she was given a lavish and expensive debutante ball in 1930, amid the Great Depression, and later due to a notoriously troubled private life.

Over the years she personally acquired a magnificent collection of her own which included the spectrum of arts, porcelain, valuable jewelry, including elaborate historic pieces that had once belonged to Marie Antoinette and Empress Eugénie of France, and important pieces by Fabergé and Cartier. 

Her emerald tiara was made by Cartier from the Grand Duchess Vladimir’s emeralds.

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Cecil Beaton, Portrait of Barbara Hutton wearing The Romanov Tiara. The Romanov Tiara was created with Romanov emeralds in 1947, Sidi Hosni, Tangier, Morocco, 1961 via

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Cecil Beaton, Portrait of Barbara Hutton wearing both the Pasha Diamond Ring and Romanov Tiara. The Romanov Tiara was created with Romanov emeralds in 1947, Sidi Hosni, Tangier, Morocco, 1961 via

Peggy Guggenheim in Paris by Rogi André (ca. 1930)

Peggy Guggenheim (1898 – 1979) was an American art collector, bohemian and socialite. Born to the wealthy New York City Guggenheim family, she was the daughter of Benjamin Guggenheim, who went down with the Titanic in 1912, and the niece of Solomon R. Guggenheim, who would establish the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.

Peggy Guggenheim created a noted art collection in Europe and America primarily between 1938 and 1946. She exhibited this collection as she built it and, in 1949, settled in Venice, where she lived and exhibited her collection for the rest of her life. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is a modern art museum on the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy, and is one of the most visited attractions in Venice.

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Peggy Guggenheim in Paris by André Rogi, ca. 1930 via

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Peggy Guggenheim in Paris by André Rogi, ca. 1930 via

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Peggy Guggenheim in Paris by André Rogi, ca. 1930 via

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Peggy Guggenheim in Paris by André Rogi, ca. 1930 via

 

Portraits of Alma Mahler, The most Beautiful Girl in Vienna

A socialite and amateur composer known for her beauty and verve, Alma Mahler (1879 – 1964) was married to composer Gustav Mahler, architect Walter Gropius, and novelist Franz Werfel. She also undertook a strong flirtation with Gustav Klimt and affairs with numerous artists. She is often regaled as the definitive femme fatale of the early 20th century (source).

When she married Gustav Mahler in 1902, he was nineteen years her senior and the director of the Vienna Court Opera. The terms of Alma’s marriage with Gustav were that she would abandon her own interest in composing. Artistically stifled herself, she embraced her role as a loving wife and supporter of Gustav’s music.

Later in their marriage, after becoming severely depressed in the wake of her daughter´s death, she began an affair with the young architect Walter Gropius (later head of the Bauhaus), whom she met during a rest at a spa. On seeking advice from Sigmund Freud, who cited Mahler’s curtailing of Alma’s musical career as a major marital obstacle, and following the emotional crisis in their marriage after Gustav’s discovery of the affair, Gustav began to take a serious interest in Alma’s musical compositions, regretting his earlier dismissive attitude and taking promotional actions, including editing and re-orchestrating some of her works.

Upon his urging, and under his guidance, she prepared five of her songs for publication (they were issued in 1910, by Gustav’s own publisher, Universal Edition). Alltogether she was the composer of at least seventeen songs for voice and piano.

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Alma Mahler (1900)

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Alma Mahler

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Alma Mahler (1900)

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Alma Mahler (1900)

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Photos of Picturesque Socialite Rita de Acosta Lydig

Cuban-American socialite Rita de Acosta Lydig (1875 – 1929) was in her heyday one of the foremost women of high society –  photographed by Adolf de Meyer, Edward Steichen and Gertrude Käsebier, she was regarded:

“the most picturesque woman in America.”

She was sculpted in alabaster by Malvina Hoffman and  painted by Giovanni Boldini and John Singer Sargent. Isabella Stewart Gardner, the creator of the Gardner museum in Boston, once asked their mutual friend, John Singer Sargent, why Rita had never expressed herself artistically. “Why should she?” Sargent answered, “She herself is art.”

Lydig was famous for her extravagant lifestyle, :

“…Rita was equally welcomed in Paris, where she spent parts of each year. She would arrive at the Ritz with a hairdresser, masseuse, chauffeur, secretary, maid,… and forty Louis Vuitton trunks…”

Saddly her overspending into heavy debt and she was declared bankrupt – shortly afterwards she died of pernicious anaemia at the age of 54.

Later her personal wardrobe became the basis for the start of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Rita de Acosta Lydig by Edward Steichen (1905)

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Rita de Acosta Lydig (1875-1929) photographed by Gertrude Käsebier (1852-1934). Illustration in “Camera work”, n° 10, April 1905.

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Rita de Acosta Lydig’ by Adolphe de Meyer, 1913

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Rita de Acosta Lydig’ by Adolphe de Meyer, 1913

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Australian socialite Molly Fink – Wife of the Rajah of Pudukkottai

Molly Fink (1894 – 1967) was an Australian socialite and wife of Martanda Bhairava Tondaiman, the Raja of the princely state of Pudukkottai. The marriage created a public scandal and resulted in the ostracization of the couple and their only son Martanda Sydney Tondaiman.

From 1922 to 1927 Martanda and Molly lived in Cannes where they bought a villa called La Favourite. At Cannes, Molly developed friendship with Elsa Maxwell,Cecil Beaton, Nancy Beaton, Lord Donegal, Lady Houston and William Locke. The couple frequented social events and held dinner parties. Martanda died at Parison 28 May 1928 at the age of fifty-three.

Following Martanda’s death, Molly’s finances began to dwindle. She sold La Favourite and purchased a house at Mayfair, London where she lived with her son, Sydney.

The Aga Khan proposed to her soon after Martanda’s death, but she rejected his proposal. In her later years, Molly remained aloof and began drinking heavily. She was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 1967. Molly died in Cannes on 22 November 1967 at the age of seventy-three.

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Molly Fink

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Molly Fink by Cecil Beaton

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Molly Fink and the Rajah

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