The Vanderbilt Duchess

This image of an etching was published in the March 21, 1907 Indianapolis News. It is a portrait of Consuelo Vanderbilt, the sister of Vanderbilt Cup race Founder William K.Vanderbilt, Jr. The story goes that Consuelo was forced by her mother Alva into marrying an English aristocrat she held no affection for in order to be able to claim the title of "Duchess." Her husband was Charles Spencer-Churchill, the 9th Duke of Marlborough. It was a loveless marriage that ended in divorce but was essential to the socially concious mother Alva as she plotted her positioning (and her family's) in Society.
The caption accompanying the portrait as it appeared in the newspaper read:
"This is the latest portrait of the duchess, formerly Consuelo Vanderbilt, who has separated from her titled English husband. In European society it is now the fad to have portraits etched, as was done of the ducess, by Paul César Helleu. It is quite as much 'the thing' as to have portraits painted by Sargent. It was reported that the duchess had engaged apartments in the Martha Washington Hotel in New York, and would live permanently in America, but this is denied by O.H.P. Belmont, who has just returned to New York. He says, 'She has no idea of coming to the United States, much less of living here. She will live abroad. There, I believe, she has the sympathy and confidence of all the Americans living in Europe."

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