cf. L.D. Sanchez, Jean-Michel Frank, Paris, 1980, p. 163 for another cast.
M. Butor and J. Vincent, Diego Giacometti, Paris, 1985, p. 107 for another cast.
Mona von Bismarck, the international socialite renowned for her beauty and impeccable fashion sense as well as her silver hair and aquamarine eyes, was, in 1933, the first American to be voted by Chanel, Molyneux, Vionnet, Lelong and Lanvin the "best dressed woman in the world." A truly elegant individual, she was photographed by Cecil Beaton, Edward Steichen and Horst P. Horst, portrayed by Salvador Dali, satirized by Truman Capote as Kate McCloud in Answered Prayers, and memorialized by Cole Porter in Ridin' High. She and her homes, clothes and lifestyle were frequently featured in magazines and newspapers, Vogue being her most steadfast admirer.
Born Mona Travis Strader in Louisville, KY, in 1917, at the age of 20, she married the first of five husbands. Her first two spouses, Henry Schlessinger and James Irving Bush (also known as "the handsomest man in the world"), each successively propelled her upwards in society. However it was with her third, Harrison Williams, that she reached the very height of society. Twenty-four years her senior, Williams, the "utilities king of America," was known to be the richest man in America. At their homes in New York (designed by Syrie Maugham), Capri, Long Island and Palm Beach they entertained the likes of the Windsors, Princess Grace of Monaco, Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, Pope John XXIII, Aristotle Onassis, Greta Garbo, Tennessee Williams and of course numerous luminaries from the fashion world including her close friend Cristobal Balenciaga.
Shortly after Williams' death in 1953 she married her longtime friend and interior decorator Count Edward Bismarck who was the grandson of the German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. Widowed in 1970, she married Bismarck's physician Umberto Martini the following year.
In 1976 Countess Bismarck donated her papers and photographs to the Filson Historical Society in her native Kentucky and after her death in 1983, a devotee of arts and culture, she requested that her Paris townhouse be established as an exhibition space for American artists and a base for American non-profit organizations in Paris.