William Horace de Vere Cole (1881-1936 ): A Man of Few Parts

February, 1910.  Herbert Cholmondeley of the Foreign Office arrived at Paddington Station with a delegation of Emperor of Abyssinia in England on an official business.  He approached the stationmaster-  it seemed the dignitaries had planned a visit to HMS Dreadnought, pride of the British navy, down in Weymouth.  Would the station master be able to arrange a private car for the honored guests?  He could,  and he did.   Once arrived at their destination, the princes were greeted by an honor guard, and the national anthem of Zanzibar was played.  The foreign visitors were allowed to inspect the fleet and even bestowed military honors on some of the officers.   Mr. Chomondeley translated for the exotics,  and regretted that they could not stay for lunch for religious reasons. Continue reading

Luisa, Marquise Casati Stampa di Soncino (1881 – 1957): All The World’s A Stage

As close to a living Edward Gorey character as you are likely to find, and had that good man written plays or novels, she would have been one of the characters.  No matter.  She was first and foremost a visual creature and therefore perfect for his metier. Tall (nearly six feet), thin, green eyed, decorated with living snakes and accompanied by a pet leopard (this years before Harrods sold such things to the chic young things of 1960’s London).   She was a muse,  and subject for a seeming all of the top visual artists of the first half of the twentieth century.

The pictures are beguiling, the stories are irresistible. Her employment of servants who were clad in gold leaf and little else.  Her use of live snakes as a fashion accessory. The pet cheetahs on a leash decades before that became fashionable.  The dinner parties where empty seats were filled with wax dummies  (though it is hard to believe that she could not fill a dinner party as large as she liked if she wanted to).  Couture clothing, jewelry, artwork, books, constant travel and a collection of high end real estate in the most exotic cities of Europe. Continue reading