Richard Watson Gilder

Richard Watson Gilder
Edith Wharton got to know Richard Watson Gilder, the editor of Century Magazine and a prime mover in the late-nineteenth-century world of arts and letters, when writing on Italian villas and gardens for the magazine in 1902-1903. They also exchanged visits in western Massachusetts, where he lived at Four Brooks Farm in Tyringham. As with all her editors, she continually wrote to him to make sure that she was being treated well--well paid, well advertised, and well edited. Gilder was the editor and friend of many American writers, artists, intellectuals, and leaders, including Mark Twain, Grover Cleveland, and Augustus Saint-Gaudens. After Gilder complained that the Italian gardens articles were too serious, Wharton replied: "As to changing the character of the articles, that seems to me almost impossible. If I had understood that you wished the 'chatty' articles on Italian gardens, of which so many have been written, & forgotten, in England & America, I should have told you at once that I was not prepared to undertake the work." She couldn't imagine combining "a study of the architectural values of Italian villas & gardens with anecdotes & small talk." Artist Cecilia Beaux was a close friend of the Gilder family and was a member of their circle.

Richard Watson Gilder 1844-1909
Cecilia Beaux (1855-1942)/ Oil on canvas, 1903
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution,
Washington, D.C.
On loan from a private collection

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