Photographs by

Mark B. Anstendig

Siegrid Gräfin von Richthofen, The Countess of Richthofen

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Siegrid Gräfin von Richthofen, The Countess of Richthofen

If I were asked which of my portrait sessions was the most successful, I would probably have to say this one.

As soon as I finished enlarging the chosen photos, the Countess had me special deliver a set to Frederico Fellini. Fellini had just finished shooting Dolce Vita and was in the cutting stage. But when he saw these photos, he stopped everything, flew the Countess down to Italy and re-shot many of the great party scenes, using the Countess in them. From then on, she was a regular in his films.

Eccentric, mad, whimsical, effusive, totally without inhibition, the Countess remains the grandest, most elegant lady I have ever met. No matter what she did, no matter how eccentric, funny, or extraordinary, she was always regal, magnificent, relaxed, comfortable, unforced, completely natural, and totally, elegantly grand. If ever the designation "Grand Dame" applied to anyone, it applied to her.

When Jeno Vincze, who was a close friend of hers, brought me to her elegant, neo-grecian style home to photograph her, we first looked around the living room while she attended to some thing or other. She came back while we were admiring the items on her mantlepiece, especially a gorgeous Urn. Without the slightest hesitation, completely off-the-cuff and without missing a beat, she said "das ist mein Mann. Er hat sich vor'm Bahn geworfen. Moechten Sie eine Tasse tee?" (That is my husband. He threw himself in front of a train. Would you like a cup of tea?  Much more piquant in German, Hamburg dialect than English).

This was a magnificent series. A real privilege to do.

More later, and many more photos.

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