At a recent lecture at the Nasher Museum in support of one of the latest exhibitions Doris Duke s Shangri La: Architecture, Landscape, and Islamic Art, Mary Samouelian, Abraham Joshua Heschel Processing Archivist of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, gave a lecture to museum members on the “real” Doris Duke. Mary is the former Doris Duke collection archivist and was responsible for sifting through 800 linear feet of Doris Duke’s archives, an amount that, stacked vertically, would be four times taller than the Duke Chapel! The archives were gifted to Duke by the Doris Duke Foundation in 2009.
In Mary’s presentation she showed a photo taken in the summer of 1923, of a young Doris Duke on her European tour, standing at the edge of a formidable glacier. After the lecture I emailed Mary, asking her if I could please have a copy of the photo, and if she knew where it was taken. She didn’t know. I particularly wanted to find out which glacier Doris was standing above, to see what size the glacier is now, after 90 years.
I sent the photo to a few friends from my old climbing days in the nineties, and one emailed me back the very next morning, from Sheffield in the UK. He had recognized it immediately as the Mer De Glace just outside Chamonix, France. “It has melted a bit since then!” he wrote.