Rita de Acosta

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Rita Hernandes de Alba Lydig (de Acosta)

Birthdate: (54)
Birthplace: New York, New York, NY, United States
Death: October 19, 1929 (54)
Hotel Gotham, New York, New York, NY, United States (pernicious anemia)
Place of Burial: Manhatten, New York County, NY
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Ricardo de Acosta and Micalela de Acosta, Hernandez de Alaba y de Alba
Wife of William Earl Dodge Stokes, Sr.
Ex-wife of Col. Philip Mesier Lydig
Mother of William Earl Dodge Stokes, Jr.
Sister of Ricardo Jr. de Acosta; Maria Cecelia Sargent; Aida de Acosta; Mercedes De Acosta and Angela de Acosta

Managed by: Malka Mysels
Last Updated:

About Rita de Acosta

Rita Lydig (born Rita Hernandez de Alba de Acosta, October 1875– October 27, 1929) was an American socialite regarded as "the most picturesque woman in America." She was photographed by Adolf de Meyer, Edward Steichen, and Gertrude Käsebier, sculpted in alabaster by Malvina Hoffman, and was painted by Giovanni Boldini and John Singer Sargent, among others.

She also wrote one novel, Tragic Mansions (Boni & Liveright, 1927), under the name Mrs Philip Lydig, a society melodrama described as "emotionally moving and appealing" by The New York Times. She also supported the suffragette cause.

Lydig lived in New York, Paris and London, and counted Edgar Degas, Auguste Rodin, Leo Tolstoy, Sarah Bernhardt, Ethel Barrymore and Claude Debussy among her friends.

Famous for her extravagant lifestyle, '...Rita was equally welcomed in Paris, where she spent parts of each year. She would arrive at the Ritz with a hairdresser, masseuse, chauffeur, secretary, maid,... and forty Louis Vuitton trunks... Her personal wardrobe became the basis for the start of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In Paris, she joined ranks with musicians, artists, intellectuals, and philosophers, names like Rodin, Eleonora Duse, Yvette Guilbert etc... Impressed by Rita's innate creative spirit, Isabella Stewart Gardner, the great collector and creator of the Gardner museum in Boston, once asked their mutual friend, John Singer Sargent, why Rita had never expressed herself artistically. "Why should she?" Sargent answered, "She herself is art."

Rita de Acosta was married twice:

• On January 3, 1895,[5] aged 19, she became the first wife of William Earl Dodge Stokes, a multimillionaire with whom she had a son, William Earl Dodge Stokes Jr, born January 5, 1896.[6] The marriage was unhappy, reportedly due to Stokes's temper and physical cruelty, and when it was dissolved by divorce in 1900, she received a settlement of nearly two million dollars, a record for the time. In February 1922 she testified in court against Stokes, then going through an acrimonious divorce from his second wife, stating that he used to beat her during their marriage.

• In 1902 she married Captain Philip M. Lydig, a retired officer in the United States Army. They separated in 1914 and divorced in 1919.

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Rita de Acosta's Timeline

October 1875
New York, New York, NY, United States
January 5, 1896
Age 20
New York, New York, United States
October 19, 1929
Age 54
New York, New York, NY, United States
Manhatten, New York County, NY