She sits there on the cover exuding sex and wealth and a certain knowingness. Mrs Lionel Phillips, who came from a modest background in South Africa, had the good sense to marry one of the ‘Rand Lords’ who made their piles in the new gold and diamond fields. She and her husband bought their way into society in Britain, accumulating houses and furniture and having themselves painted, as in this wonderful portrait, by the fashionable Giovanni Boldini. That of Mr Phillips is more subdued, even sombre. The face, said the Athenaeum, ‘is amazing in its unscrupulous vulgarity’. Well, one might think, the anonymous critic could have taken a look around him. As the stunning illustrations in Edwardian Opulence — of diamond tiaras, fans covered with gold sequins, rubies and diamonds or Fabergé electric bell pushes made out of precious stones — show, Edwardian society did not shrink from showy ostentation, even vulgarity.