The story of Venice’s “Unfinished Palazzo”— told through the lives of three of its most unconventional, passionate, and fascinating residents: Luisa Casati, Doris Castlerosse, and Peggy Guggenheim Commissioned in 1750, the Palazzo Venier was planned as a testimony to the power and wealth of a great Venetian family, but the fortunes of the Veniers waned midconstruction and the project was abandoned. Empty, unfinished, and decaying, the building was considered an eyesore until the early twentieth century when it attracted and inspired three women at key moments in their lives: Luisa Casati, Doris Castlerosse, and Peggy Guggenheim. Luisa Casati turned her home into an aesthete’s fantasy where she hosted parties as extravagant and decadent as Renaissance court operas, spending small fortunes on her own costumes in her quest to become a “living work of art” and muse. Doris Castlerosse strove to make her mark in London and Venice during the glamorous, hedonistic interwar years, hosting film stars and royalty at glittering parties. In the postwar years, Peggy Gugenheim turned the Palazzo into a model of modernist simplicity that served as a home for her exquisite collection of modern art that today draws tourists and art lovers from around the world. Each vivid life story is accompanied by previously unseen materials from family archives, weaving an intricate history of these legendary art world eccentrics.
By the 1920s, women were on the verge of something huge. Jazz, racy fashions, eyebrowraising new attitudes about art and sex—all of this pointed to a sleek, modern world, one that could shake off the grimness of the Great War and stride into the future in one deft, stylized gesture. The women who defined this the Jazz Age—Josephine Baker, Tallulah Bankhead, Diana Cooper, Nancy Cunard, Zelda Fitzgerald, and Tamara de Lempicka—would presage the sexual revolution by nearly half a century and would shape the role of women for generations to come. In Flappers, the acclaimed biographer Judith Mackrell renders these women with all the color that marked their lives and their era. Both sensuous and sympathetic, her admiring biography lays bare the private lives of her heroines, filling in the bold contours. These women came from vastly different backgrounds, but all ended up passing through Paris, the mecca of the avant-garde. Before she was the toast of Parisian society, Josephine Baker was a poor black girl from the slums of Saint Louis. Tamara de Lempicka fled the Russian Revolution only to struggle to scrape together a life for herself and her family. A committed painter, her portraits were indicative of the age's art deco sensibility and sexual daring. The Brits in the group—Nancy Cunard and Diana Cooper— came from pinkie-raising aristocratic families but soon descended into the salacious delights of the vanguard. Tallulah Bankhead and Zelda Fitzgerald were two Alabama girls driven across the Atlantic by a thirst for adventure and artistic validation. But beneath the flamboyance and excess of the Roaring Twenties lay age-old prejudices about gender, race, and sexuality. These flappers weren't just dancing and carousing; they were fighting for recognition and dignity in a male-dominated world. They were more than mere lovers or muses to the modernist masters—in their pursuit of fame and intense experience, we see a generation of women taking bold steps toward something burgeoning, undefined, maybe dangerous: a New Woman.
Peggy Guggenheim -- millionairess, legendary lover, sadomasochist, appalling parent, selective miser -- was one of the greatest and most notorious art patrons of the twentieth century. After her father, Benjamin Guggenheim, went down with the Titanic, the young heiress came into a small fortune and left for Europe. She married the writer Laurence Vail and joined the American expatriate bohemian set. Though her many lovers included such lions of art and literature as Samuel Beckett, Max Ernst (whom she later married), Yves Tanguy, and Roland Penrose, real love always seemed to elude her. In the late 1930s, Peggy set up one of the first galleries of modern art in London, quickly acquiring a magnificent selection of works, buying great numbers of paintings from artists fleeing to America after the Nazi invasion of France. Escaping from Vichy, she moved back to New York, where she was a vital part of the new American abstract expressionist movement. Meticulously researched, filled with colorful incident, and boasting a distinguished cast, Anton Gill's biography reveals the inner drives of a remarkable woman and indefatigable patron of the arts.
"Sargent’s Women has a distinct elegance and potency—Lucey’s writing propels you forward, straight to the heart of the story, along the vibrant ties that linked this fascinating artist to the women he made infamous." —Christene Barberich, global editor-in-chief and cofounder, Refinery29 In this seductive, multilayered biography, based on original letters and diaries, Donna M. Lucey illuminates four extraordinary women painted by the iconic high-society portraitist John Singer Sargent. With uncanny intuition, Sargent hinted at the mysteries and passions that unfolded in his subjects’ lives. Elsie Palmer traveled between her father’s Rocky Mountain castle and the medieval English manor house where her mother took refuge, surrounded by artists, writers, and actors. Elsie hid labyrinthine passions, including her love for a man who would betray her. As the veiled Sally Fairchild—beautiful and commanding—emerged on Sargent’s canvas, the power of his artistry lured her sister, Lucia, into a Bohemian life. The saintly Elizabeth Chanler embarked on a surreptitious love affair with her best friend’s husband. And the iron-willed Isabella Stewart Gardner scandalized Boston society and became Sargent’s greatest patron and friend. Like characters in an Edith Wharton novel, these women challenged society’s restrictions, risking public shame and ostracism. All had forbidden love affairs; Lucia bravely supported her family despite illness, while Elsie explored Spiritualism, defying her overbearing father. Finally, the headstrong Isabella outmaneuvered the richest plutocrats on the planet to create her own magnificent art museum. These compelling stories of female courage connect our past with our present—and remind us that while women live differently now, they still face obstacles to attaining full equality.
The plot could have been inspired by Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies, but unlike Waugh's novel—which parodies the era of the "Bright Young Things"—this is a real-life story of scandal, greed, corruption, and promiscuity at the heart of 1920s and '30s high society, focusing on the wily, willful socialite Doris Delevingne and her doomed relationship with the gossip columnist Valentine Browne, Viscount Castlerosse. Marrying each other in pursuit of the finer things in life, their unlikely union was tempestuous from the off, rocked by affairs (with a whole host of society figures, including Cecil Beaton, Diana Mitford, and Winston Churchill, amongst others) on both sides, and degenerated into one of London's bitterest, and most talked about, divorce battles. In this compelling new book, Lyndsy Spence follows the rise and fall of their relationship, exploring their decadent society lives in revelatory detail and offering new insight into some of the mid 20th century's most prominent figures.
I have no memory. I always say to my friends, “Don’t tell me anything you don’t want repeated. I just can’t remember not to.” Invariably I forget and I repeat everything. In 1923 I began to write my memoirs. They began like this: “I come from two of the best Jewish families. One of my grandfathers was born in a stable like Jesus Christ or, rather, over a stable in Bavaria, and my other grandfather was a peddler.” I don’t seem to have gotten very far with this book. Maybe I had nothing to say, or possibly I was too young for the task which I had set myself. Now I feel I am ripe for it. By waiting too long I may forget everything I have somehow managed to remember. If my grandfathers started life modestly they ended it sumptuously. My stable-born grandfather, Mr. Seligman, came to America in steerage, with forty dollars in his pocket and contracted smallpox on board ship. He began his fortune by being a roof shingler and later by making uniforms for the Union Army in the Civil War. Later he became a renowned banker and president of Temple Emanu-el. Socially he got way beyond my other grandfather, Mr. Guggenheim the peddler, who was born in St. Gallen in German Switzerland. Mr. Guggenheim far surpassed Mr. Seligman in amassing an enormous fortune and buying up most of the copper mines of the world, but he never succeeded in attaining Mr. Seligman’s social distinction. In fact, when my mother married Benjamin Guggenheim the Seligmans considered it a mésalliance. To explain that she was marrying into the well known smelting family, they sent a cable to their kin in Europe saying, “Florette engaged Guggenheim smelter.” This became a great family joke, as the cable misread “Guggenheim smelt her.” By the time I was born the Seligmans and the Guggenheims were extremely rich. At least the Guggenheims were and the Seligmans hadn’t done so badly. My grandfather, James Seligman, was a very modest man who refused to spend money on himself and underfed his trained nurse. He lived sparsely and gave everything to his children and grandchildren. He remembered all our birthdays and, although he did not die until ninety-three, he never failed to make out a check on these occasions. The checks were innumerable, as he had eleven children and fifteen grandchildren. Most of his children were peculiar, if not mad. That was because of the bad inheritance they received from my grandmother. My grandfather finally had to leave her. She must have been objectionable. My mother told me that she could never invite young men to her home without a scene from her mother. My grandmother went around to shopkeepers and, as she leaned over the counter, asked them confidentially, “When do you think my husband last slept with me?” My mother’s brothers and sisters were very eccentric. One of my favorite aunts was an incurable soprano. If you happened to meet her on the corner of Fifth Avenue while waiting for a bus, she would open her mouth wide and sing scales trying to make you do as much. She wore her hat hanging off the back of her head or tilted over one ear. A rose was always stuck in her hair. Long hatpins emerged dangerously, not from her hat, but from her hair. Her trailing dresses swept up the dust of the streets. She invariably wore a feather boa. She was an excellent cook and made beautiful tomato jelly. Whenever she wasn’t at the piano, she could be found in the kitchen or reading the ticker-tape. She was an inveterate gambler. She had a strange complex about germs and was forever wiping her furniture with lysol. But she had such extraordinary charm that I really loved her. I cannot say her husband felt as much. After he had fought with her for over thirty years, he tried to kill her and one of her sons by hitting them with a golf club. Not succeeding, he rushed to the reservoir where he drowned himself with heavy weights tied to his feet.
One of the most fascinating women of the twentieth century, Peggy Guggenheim was one of the art world's most influential and flamboyant patrons. Effortlessly combining her personal and professional lives (indeed, they were almost indistinguishable), her life was marked by drama and adventure. Every aspect of that extraordinary life is reproduced in Peggy Guggenheim: A Collector's Album, beginning with her privileged childhood as a member of the wealthy and powerful Guggenheim family and ending with her settling in her Venetian palazzo on the Grand Canal. One of the most fascinating women of the twentieth century, Peggy Guggenheim was one of the art world's most influential and flamboyant patrons. Effortlessly combining her personal and professional lives (indeed, they were almost indistinguishable), her life was marked by drama and adventure. Every aspect of that extraordinary life is reproduced in Peggy Guggenheim: A Collector's Album, beginning with her privileged childhood as a member of the wealthy and powerful Guggenheim family and ending with her settling in her Venetian palazzo on the Grand Canal.
One of twentieth-century America’s most influential patrons of the arts, Peggy Guggenheim (1898–1979) brought to wide public attention the work of such modern masters as Jackson Pollock and Man Ray. In her time, there was no stronger advocate for the groundbreaking and the avant-garde. Her midtown gallery was the acknowledged center of the postwar New York art scene, and her museum on the Grand Canal in Venice remains one of the world’s great collections of modern art. Yet as renowned as she was for the art and artists she so tirelessly championed, Guggenheim was equally famous for her unconventional personal life, and for her ironic, playful desire to shock. Acclaimed best-selling author Francine Prose offers a singular reading of Guggenheim’s life that will enthrall enthusiasts of twentieth-century art, as well as anyone interested in American and European culture and the interrelationships between them. The lively and insightful narrative follows Guggenheim through virtually every aspect of her extraordinary life, from her unique collecting habits and paradigm-changing discoveries, to her celebrity friendships, failed marriages, and scandalous affairs, and Prose delivers a colorful portrait of a defiantly uncompromising woman who maintained a powerful upper hand in a male-dominated world. Prose also explores the ways in which Guggenheim’s image was filtered through the lens of insidious antisemitism.
Ernest Hemingway is most often associated with Spain, Cuba, and Florida, but Italy was equally important in his life and work. This book, the first full-length study on the subject, explores Hemingway’s visits throughout his life to such places as Sicily, Genoa, Rapallo, Cortina, and Venice. Richard Owen describes how Hemingway first visited Italy during World War I, an experience that set the scene for A Farewell to Arms. The writer then returned after World War II, where he would find inspiration for Across the River and into the Trees. When Men without Women was published, some reviewers declared Hemingway to be at heart a reporter preoccupied with bullfighters, soldiers, prostitutes, and hard drinkers, but their claims failed to note that he also wrote sensitively and passionately about love and loss against an Italian backdrop. Owen highlights the significance of Italy in the writer’s life. On the night he shot himself in July 1961, for example, Hemingway sang a song he had once learned in Cortina d’Ampezzo. Hemingway returned to Italy again and again, and the places he visited or used as inspiration for his work are many. At the same time, the inspiration goes both ways: Owen describes how the fifteenth century villa Ca’ Erizzo at Bassano del Grappa, where the American Red Cross ambulances were stationed, is now a museum devoted to the writer and World War I. Showing how the Italian landscape, from the Venetian lagoon to the Dolomites and beyond, deeply affected one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century, Hemingway in Italy demonstrates that this country belongs alongside Spain as a key influence on his writing—and why the Italian themselves took Hemingway and his writing to heart.
Lydia Lopokova, Imperial Dancer and Mrs John Maynard Keynes
Author: Judith Mackrell
Publisher: Hachette UK
Category: Biography & Autobiography
The story of the splendidly unpredictable Russian dancer who ruffled the feathers of the Bloomsbury set and became the wife of John Maynard Keynes Born in 1891 in St Petersburg, Lydia Lopokova lived a long and remarkable life. Her vivacious personality and the sheer force of her charm propelled her to the top of Diaghilev's Ballet Russes. Through a combination of luck, determination and talent, Lydia became a star in Paris, a vaudeville favourite in America, the toast of Britain and then married the world-renowned economist, and formerly homosexual, John Maynard Keynes. Lydia's story links ballet and the Bloomsbury group, war, revolution and the economic policies of the super-powers. She was an immensely captivating, eccentric and irreverent personality: a bolter, a true bohemian and, eventually, an utterly devoted wife.
Author: Scot D. Ryersson,Michael Orlando Yaccarino
The Marchesa Luisa Casati was Europe's most notorious celebrity, and its most eccentric. For the first three decades of the twentieth century she astounded the continent. Nude servants gilded in gold leafs attended her; bizarre wax mannequins sat as guests at her dining table; and she wore live snakes as jewellery. Among those she captivated were Man Ray, Augustus John, Jean Cocteau, Cecil Beaton and Jack Kerouac. Some became lovers, others awestruck admirers, but all were influenced by this extraordinary muse. Explored in detail for the first time, this is the story of the Marchesa Luisa Casati.
The Riviera Set is the story of the group of people who lived, partied, bed-hopped and politicked at the Château de l'Horizon near Cannes, over the course of forty years from the time when Coco Chanel made southern French tans fashionable in the twenties to the death of the playboy Prince Aly Khan in 1960. At the heart of this was the amazing Maxine Elliott, the daughter of a fisherman from Connecticut, who built the beautiful art deco Château and brought together the likes of Noel Coward, the Aga Khan, the Windsors and two very saucy courtesans, Doris Castlerosse and Daisy Fellowes, who set out to be dangerous distractions to Winston Churchill as he worked on his journalism and biographies during his 'wilderness years' in the thirties. After the War the story continued as the Château changed hands and Prince Aly Khan used it to entertain the Hollywood set, as well as launch his seduction of and eventual marriage to Rita Hayworth. Mary Lovell tells her story of high society behaviour with tremendous brio and relish, and this book has all the charm and fascination of her bestselling The Mitford Girls and The Churchills.
A fascinating examination of the ambitions and friendships of a talented group of midcentury women artists Farewell to the Muse documents what it meant to be young, ambitious, and female in the context of an avant-garde movement defined by celebrated men whose backgrounds were often quite different from those of their younger lovers and companions. Focusing on the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, Whitney Chadwick charts five female friendships among the Surrealists to show how Surrealism, female friendship, and the experiences of war, loss, and trauma shaped individual women’s transitions from someone else’s muse to mature artists in their own right. Her vivid account includes the fascinating story of Claude Cahun and Suzanne Malherbe in occupied Jersey, as well as the experiences of Lee Miller and Valentine Penrose at the front line. Chadwick draws on personal correspondence between women, including the extraordinary letters between Leonora Carrington and Leonor Fini during the months following the arrest and imprisonment of Carrington’s lover Max Ernst and the letter Frida Kahlo shared with her friend and lover Jacqueline Lamba years after it was written in the late 1930s. This history brings a new perspective to the political context of Surrealism as well as fresh insights on the vital importance of female friendship to its progress.