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Lola Montez (?), Actress, Dancer and Courtesan

Lola Montez (?), Actress, Dancer and Courtesan
Unknown Maker, Lola Montez (?), Actress, Dancer and Courtesan, Sixth plate ambrotype. Collection of The Bancroft Library
    Modern photographic historians have cast doubt about the identification of this ambrotype. Is it indeed a portrait of Lola Montez, née Marie Gilbert, born in Limerick, Ireland? Montez (1818-1861) began her dancing career in 1843, and though married to a young English army officer stationed in India, her extra-marital (she never divorced) love life was immense and extremely varied. She reportedly had love affairs with Franz Liszt and Alexander Dumas before becoming the mistress of Ludwig I of Bavaria. After being exiled from Bavaria when Ludwig fell out of favor of the ruling party, she travelled to New York in 1851 and eventually arrived in San Francisco and the gold fields, where she mesmerized and titillated audiences with her "spider dance."

After her dancing career came to a close, she travelled throughout the United States and England on a lecture circuit, and died in 1861 at age 42.

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