guilty of many carelessly written sentences

Olga, the Baroness de Meyer (1871 – 1930/1931) was an artists’ model, socialite, patron of the arts, writer, and fashion figure of the early 20th century. She was the wife of photographer Adolph de Meyer and was rumoured to be the natural daughter of King Edward VII of the United Kingdom.

image of Olga found here

To many individuals who observed Olga’s early life the most distinguished familial connection was her relationship with Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales and later King Edward VII. Though officially her godfather, the British royal was known to be one of Olga’s mother’s lovers and, consequently, suspected of being Olga’s actual father.

King Edward visiting Marienbad found here

However, other potential fathers have been identified. A strong candidate was Stanislaus Augustus, 3rd Prince Poniatowski and 3rd Prince of Monte Rotondo, a former equerry of Napoleon III, whom Olga reportedly resembled and with whom the newlywed Duchess Caracciolo reportedly eloped on 1 September 1869, the very day her arranged marriage with the duke took place.

image found here

Olga married Marino Brancaccio in 1892, and divorced him in 1899. Artist Jacques-Émile Blanche, a family friend, called it “a short and most dramatic union“. A month later she married Adolphe de Meyer, a celebrated artist and photographer. This was a marriage of convenience, as the groom was homosexual and the bride was bisexual; some sources went to far as to identify her as a lesbian.

Baron de Meyer found here

The de Meyers were characterized by Violet Trefusis—who counted Olga among her lovers —as “Pederaste and Medisante” because, as Trefusis observed, “He looked so queer and she had such a vicious tongue“. Olga also had an affair with Princess de Polignac, the well known Singer sewing-machine heiress and arts patron.

Known for “her elusive combination of childlike innocence and soigné charm” and described as “tall and slender, with Venetian red hair”, Olga de Meyer was muse and model to many artists. Though British novelist George Moore was unimpressed by her beauty. As he commented to an admiring friend, “By Jove, you’re all after the girl, a fine Mélisande for the stage, with her beautiful hair down to her heels. She’s paintable, I admit, but as to one’s daily use, I should rather have the mother than the daughter. Too slender for me … you know my tastes.”

image of long hair found here

She worked briefly as a society columnist for a Paris newspaper in the 1890s. As Mahrah de Meyer, a name she adopted on the advice of an astrologer, she wrote one novel, the autobiographical Nadine Narska. The New York Times condemned the novel as “morbid, exaggerated and guilty of many carelessly written sentences”, while The Dial called de Meyer’s book “a miscellaneous mixture of paganism, diluted Nietzsche, and the doctrine of reincarnation“.

paganism image found here

Known as a female amateur fencing champion, Baroness de Meyer competed at tournaments in Europe and the United States in the early 1900s. The last years of Olga de Meyer’s life were not pleasant ones. As an observer wrote, “Nervous, drugged, surrounded by ambiguous friends and accompanied by a too-conspicuous husband, Olga became frankly spiteful. Scandal-mongering had eliminated the last of her respectable friends, and people visited her only because they could be sure to find a pipe of opium or a sniff of cocaine”.

more lovely stereoscopic images here

Olga de Meyer died in a detoxification clinic in Austria in 1930 or 1931. 

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38 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Who’s to judge? I, myself, am guilty of many carelessly written sentences…

    • As are all of us who blog…..

  2. i’m surprised she wasn’t known for her Wasp-waist. Looks as though i could wrap the fingers of one hand around that…

    • She looks almost unnatural. I think the puffed sleeves have a lot to do with it, but her waist is freakishly tiny.

      • She looks like she could be snapped in half

    • It made me wince. Fancy dying in a detox clinic! Best to stay on the drugs!

    • Years of tight-lacing to get a waist like that. Her internal organs would have been all squashed.

  3. Guess Singer Fortune was much greater at one point than it is today. Can anyone sew anymore?

    • Sew what? Hahaha.

    • Are you trying to needle Binky?

      • All in the eye of the needle er beholder

  4. I think maybe her belt was too tight and it cut off the blood supply to her. . . brain?

  5. oh that waist is scary.

  6. i’ll be nice to see what Olga’s mom looked like 🙂

  7. I love how everyone back then was either bisexual or homosexual and didn’t seem to really give a damn! :))

  8. Struck by some of the images – that waist, the hair!
    How did she breathe, eat?
    And how did that other woman ever wash her hair? It would take hours…

    • I wonder if it hastened the invention of hairdryers

  9. It’s a pity they didn’t have DNA testing back then. They could have cleared all this lineage nonsense up in a snap.

  10. The sight of her waist made me very uncomfortable, unmoored for a second, and the baron looks like a girl playing a boy playing a girl playing a boy… with a terrifying moustache…

    • the baron is very androgynous isn’t he?

  11. Your title made me wonder if you might have posted my mug-shot below, N.M…

    • Haha…. not under that title. Favourite photographers, maybe…..

  12. She must have been wearing an agonisingly tight corset to get a waist like that. Breathing must have been well-nigh impossible.

    For a moment there, I thought it said “Olga also had an affair with a Singer sewing-machine.” Well, there are people who have affairs with inanimate objects – and even marry them.

    I suspect those gay marriages of convenience are more common than we imagine – even in today’s relatively liberated society.

  13. She just looks like a lifeless child’s doll in that picture – maybe she was already on the toot.

    • Yes perhaps. Or maybe it was just because she found it hard to stay upright and breathe at the same time

  14. Olga was beautiful! And that long, red hair–amazing!

  15. Interesting, I haven’t seen stereoscope pictures in a long time.

    • did you check out the others at the link below?

  16. I’m going to have nightmares about that hair.

    • …wrapping around your throat and squeezing tight

      • A friend of mine lived with a woman who shed a lot of hair. One day, the friend’s toe lost circulation. There was a strand of her roommate’s hair wrapped around it. Chilling.

  17. Carelessly written sentences I write under the influences of corsetted waists and carelessly wasted lives.

  18. and the owner of an impossibly small waist

  19. God love a man who prefers the mother to the daughter.

  20. Seriously, her waist is a nightmare.

  21. […] I found the link to the Victorian bimbo pics at Gimcrack. Sorry for the oversight, nursem.] Share […]

  22. Sorry to disturb, but this is the biographer of Winnaretta Singer-Polignac writing. Your photo of the so-called “Princesse de Polignac” is NOT the Princesse, but her niece by marriage, the Marquise de Polignac, née Nina Crosby. The mislabeling of this photo is reproduced all over the Internet, but it still doesn’t make the picture one of Winnaretta Singer-Polignac. There are plenty of actual photos of WSP on the Web if you feel inclined to replace this one.

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