The Bell Époche, prior to World War I, was a prosperous and extravagant era when royalty governed most of Europe. At the same time in the United States, great fortunes were being made through unfettered trusts and monopolies, creating a class of Nouveau Riche. This ambitious society of Robber Barons and their social climbing wives was just as stratified as their real European counterparts, but lacked the accompanying pedigrees. During this period there was a beneficial intermingling of interests. American families sought tittles through arranged marriages of their daughters, and the lavish lifestyles of eligible counts and crown princes required infusions of cash.
No American artist better presented that colorful era than Albert Beck Wenzell. From a wealthy family himself and with solid academic training in Munich and in Paris he knew his subjects well and could paint them with great authority. His opulently gowned, imperious, and always-beautiful young women were depicted with a dazzling display of artful exaggeration; the young men wore their colorful uniforms or full dress with an assured careless swagger.