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date: 18 October 2019

Wolfe, Catharine Lorillardlocked

(08 March 1828–04 April 1887)
  • Saul E. Zalesch


Wolfe, Catharine Lorillard (08 March 1828–04 April 1887), philanthropist and art collector, was born in New York City, the daughter of John David Wolfe, a merchant and real-estate developer, and Dorothea Ann Lorillard. Wolfe experienced the stereotypical childhood of the very rich, including private tutors, fashionable parties, and family tours in Europe. Her interests appear to have included art, social life, fashion, foreign travel, and daily horseback riding in Central Park or near “Vinland,” her Newport estate. At the death of her mother in 1866 she inherited part of the Lorillard tobacco fortune and began to collaborate with her father in his philanthropic endeavors. She may also have begun speculating in real estate. After her father died in 1872 Wolfe possessed a fortune estimated at $12 million. It is difficult to determine how she invested or managed her money; as a refined woman, she shunned publicity, and contemporary observers only recorded her activities that were deemed appropriate for women. As seen by contemporaries, her main interests were the Episcopal church, social life, travel, philanthropy, and art collecting. One obituary declared, “Miss Wolfe was a most quiet and unassuming person and had no eccentricities of habit or character” ( ...

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