De Wolfe, Elsie
- Penny Sparke
(b New York, NY, Dec 20, 1865; d Versailles, July 12, 1950).
American interior decorator, active also in France. Born in New York, in the early 1890s she became a professional actress, wearing couture clothes on stage. Recognized as a better “clothes horse” than actress, she transformed herself, aged 40, into an interior decorator. This was partly made possible by the support of her female companion, Elizabeth Marbury, with whom she lived from the early 1890s until World War I, in a house in Irving Place, New York.
Although de Wolfe’s first major interior decorating project, the Colony Club (1905–7) in New York, was undertaken in a Colonial style, on the many projects that she undertook over the next decade across the USA, she used a revived French 18th-century style that was favored by her nouveau riche clients, among them Lolita and J. Ogden Armour, based in Chicago, and Ethel and William H. Crocker in California. In 1913 she wrote a highly successful decorating advice book, ...