Helena

Modjeska

"We first met Jeannette Gilder. She was then a young newspaper woman and wore semi-masculine dress,--, a melon hat, a high collar, a cravat, and a tailor-made coat, but under those manly garments was hidden an essentially womanly nature and a heart full of sympathy and kindness. She always seemed to me a wonderful combination of talent, work, enthusiasm, abnegation, and serenity. She possessed a wonderful recuperative power; after toiling almost to exhaustion, she would enjoy, in her moments of leisure, all the fun and pleasure of life with the buoyancy of a little girl. We met often in the seventies, and then we drifted away from each other, but neither space nor time count with her, for no matter how many years have elapsed since our last meeting, she always remains the same, Sempre la stessa... We were also welcomed by her brother, Richard W. Gilder. We spent many delightful hours in his house on Fifteenth Street, called the Studio, because the living room was arranged as an artist's atelier for his charming and gifted wife, Madame Helena de Kay Gilder, who painted there her portraits and sketches from life. I shall always remember the glorious evening spent in that artistic abode, where all that could be found best in art gathered around the madonna's tea table. In that house Clara Louise Kellogg sang, Salvini recited, Joe Jefferson was a frequent guest on his visits to New York. Poets, artists, sculptors, as well as people of the highest social position, found respite from the daily humdrum in that atmosphere of refinement. Amoung others, we met Clara Louise Kellogg, John La Farge, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and also Walt Whitman. I shall not easily forget the impression the latter made on me."

from "Memories and Impressions" by Helena Modjeska

In January of 1878, Helena Modjeska opened in New York in a production of "Camille."

"Jeanette Gilder came to my dressing room with her face flooded with tears, and we fell into each other's arms, laughing heartily, she over her previous crying fit, and I because a laugh was such a good relief after the emotions of the third act. Richard Watson Gilder, the poet, and his beautiful madonna-like wife also came to shake hands with me, and I was happy."

from "Memories and Impressions" by Helena Modjeska