A Brief Introduction
Built for Mr. and Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt, Marble House (1888-1892) is a social and architectural landmark that set the pace for Newport’s subsequent transformation from a quiet summer colony of wooden houses to the legendary resort of opulent stone palaces. Alva Vanderbilt was a leading hostess in Newport society, and envisioned Marble House as her “temple to the arts” in America. In 1889, Alva Vanderbuilt acquired a 350-piece collection of Medieval and Renaissance paintings from Émile Gavet, an art collector/dealer in Paris. All artwork from this collection is currently housed in the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida.
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Designed by the architect Richard Morris Hunt, and furnished by the Parisian cabinet makers Allard and Sons, Marble House cost an estimated 11 million dollars, of which 7 million was spent on 500,000 cubic feet of marble. Mrs. Vanderbilt sold the house to Frederick H. Prince in 1932; the Preservation Society acquired the house in 1963.
All artwork and sculpture imagery generously provided by the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.