Vilma Lwoff-Parlaghy - Manhattan


In Manhattan she lived stylishly in a fourteen-room suite on the third floor of the new Plaza Hotel, which included a private chapel; her retinue there included a personal surgeon and a chamberlain, as well as a pet lion named "Goldfleck". When "Goldfleck" died she buried him at the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery, with a fascinating headstone.

The Princess had seen the lion cub at Ringling Brothers circus and asked to buy him, but the circus owners refused. However, they did agree to sell him to American Civil War hero Daniel E. Sickles - whose portrait the Princess had recently painted. He gave the cub immediately to the grateful Princess as a gift.

She became known as a 5th Avenue portraitist, partly as a result of a well-publicized 1911 visit to her cousin Abbott Lawrence Lowell, then President of Harvard, during which she travelled to Boston by private railway car and insisted on dining off her own solid-gold dinnerware.

After Goldfleck's death in 1912, the Princess summered in the Catskills.

In 1913 she celebrated her fiftieth birthday with an exhibition of a series of her German portraits in the Plaza. In 1916 she moved to Park Avenue, commencing her residence with the presentation of a portrait of John Burroughs; that same year she presented her so-called "blue portrait" of the inventor Nikola Tesla in her studio at 109 East 39th Street. Hard to believe but Nikola Tesla only once in his lifetime sat for a portrait, and he did this only for the painter Princess Lwoff-Parlaghy. She celebrated her sixtieth birthday in 1923 with an exhibition of what she called her Manhattan Hall of Fame in the Carlton on Madison Avenue.

Princess Lwoff-Parlaghy died in 1923; the poet Edwin Markham gave her funeral oration. She is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.

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