Historical Note


Often found in the center of Philadelphia's high society and other well-knowns, traveler, writer and endearing hostess Gloria Braggiotti Etting captured her experiences through her camera lens and through her published writings. Etting spent most of her adult life in Philadelphia, where she moved in 1938 upon her marriage to artist Emlen Etting and where the couple hosted numerous parties in their center city townhouse. When she died, local reporters described her as one "who gathered friends with the kind of passion others have for collecting stamps, art or butterflies."

Born in Florence, Italy, Etting was one of eight children. Her Italian American parents were singers who gave music lessons and recitals at their villa starring their students and their own children. Most of her siblings also pursued an artistic career: two were professional dances, one an actress, one a visual artist, and another a pianist. With the death of her mother, Etting's family relocated to Boston. During the 1920s she studied modern dance, later opening her own dance studio with two of her sisters. In 1931 she moved to New York City to dance and act, but instead took a job with the New York Post as a fashion editor. With her 1938 marriage to Emlen Etting in 1938, Etting again relocated. This time to Philadelphia, where she worked as an art ciritic for the Philadelphia Ledger. Over the next 25 years, Etting turned her globetrotting into a career as she wrote firsthnad accounts of exotic travel destinations and jet-set fetes for Town and Country magazine and for Philadelphia newspapers. She memorialized her life in both pictures and words. In her 1957 book, "Born in a Crowd," Etting described the enchanting years of her childhood growing up under the Tuscan sun. In 1993, she published a book of photographs, "By the Way," which consisted of images of several hundred of her friends and others she met on her world travels. Anne d'Harnoncourt, the director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, wrote the book's introduction. Etting also wrote "Philadelphia, the Intimate City," which was published in 1968.

Emlen Etting died of Parkinson Disease in 1993. Five years later Gloria Etting married Alesandro Buonacuore and moved to Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. They later moved to Siracusa, Sicily, which is where Etting died on September 3, 2003 at the age of 94.

Works Consulted

Braggiotti, Gloria. Born in a crowd. (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1957).

Gaiter, Dorothy J. "A fete in (and for) Rittenhouse Square." New York Times, 23 June 1984. nytimes.com. 14 Sept. 2006.

Obituary. "Gloria Braggiotti Etting, 94, traveler, writer and hostess." Philadelphia Inquirer, 19 Sept. 2003.