Posts Tagged ‘Mercedes de Acosta’

Meet the most “picturesque woman in America”

January 16, 2013

Ritadeacostalydigphoto1913When Rita de Acosta Lydig was a young New York socialite in the late 1890s and early 1900s, there were no paparazzi to chase her around the trendy clubs and restaurants of the Gilded Age city.

Yet her image was all over the place—photographed, sculpted, and painted by artists such as Edward Steichen, Augustus Rodin, and John Singer Sargent.

That’s how Lydig, born in 1875 to a prominent New York family of Spanish and Cuban descent, earned the title “the most picturesque woman in America.”

Ritadecostalydig1911Like many socialites, she had what sounds like a messy romantic life: Lydig divorced twice and had a very public broken engagement. Yet she also possessed “a rare charm and intellectual brilliance as well,” states her 1929 obituary in The New York Times.

Lydig had legendary style and a deep appreciation for the arts, socializing in creative circles here and in Paris and holding salons in her home that attracted artists and actors such as Sarah Bernhardt.

She died in 1929 in her apartment at the Hotel Gotham at Fifth Avenue and 55th Street, her image immortalized in art.

Her lavish collection of clothes and shoes, interestingly, were donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

[Top photo: Adolf de Meyer; bottom painting: Giovanni Baldini]