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Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

goldfleck the lion

On the grounds of the Hartsdale (New York) Pet Cemetery and Crematory ("America's First and Most Prestigious Pet Burial Grounds"), a white stone reads:

Beneath This Stone Is Buried The Beautiful Young Lion Goldfleck, Whose Death Is Sincerely Mourned By His Mistress Princess Lwoff-Parlaghy, New York, 1912.

I couldn't make these things up if I tried. Born Elisabeth von Parlaghy (she used her middle name) in Hungary, educated and trained in Budapest and Munich, Vilma's facility for executing portraits in a sensitive, realist style gained her prime clients, as well as a brief marriage at age 26 to the Russian Prince Lwoff. Though she didn't keep him long, she called herself the Princess Lwoff-Parlaghy for the rest of her life. Between her divorce and her fame as a painter, she did well enough to keep herself in high style, most notably in New York City's Plaza Hotel.

In fact the Plaza was home for Goldfleck during his brief life. The Princess spotted him as a cub at the Ringling Bros. Circus, but they wouldn't sell him to her, no matter how much she asked. As it turned out, though, they would happily give the cub to Civil War hero General Daniel E. Sickles, whose portrait the Princess had just painted, and who had specially asked him to run interference for her. General Sickles paid for the cub, gave him to Vilma as a gift, and she gratefully named him "Sickles" after his benefactor. It didn't stick. He was Goldfleck the rest of his days.

He died young, and the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery site has a lovely anecdote about the lying in state that the Princess gave her friend: surrounded by toys, food dishes and flowers.

Read the story of Goldfleck here.
Read about the Princess Vilma Lwoff-Parlaghy here, and I wish I could find more.


Chet said...

Great story and...I'm taking note of these wonderfully imaginative names.

Merry Christmas!

Anita said...

Nice story.

Merry Crhistmas!