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.
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.