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воскресенье, 15 мая 2011 г.

"La Divine Comtesse"- Countess de Castiglione

Considered the most beautiful woman of her time, the Countess de Castiglione was a special agent for the cause of Italian unification, the mistress of Napoleon III, and a mysterious recluse notorious for her numerous love affairs.
She collaborated with photographer Pierre-Louis Pierson to chronicle her natural beauty, extravagant couture, public appearances, and private fantasies.


Virginia Oldoini, Countess of Castiglione (22 March 1837 – 28 November 1899), better known as La Castiglione, was an Italian courtesan who achieved notoriety as a mistress of Emperor Napoleon III of France. She was also a significant figure in the early history of photography.

In 1856 she began sitting for Mayer and Pierson, photographers favored by the imperial court. Over the next four decades she directed Pierre-Louis Pierson to help her create 700 different photographs in which she re-created the signature moments of her life for the camera. She spent a large part of her personal fortune and even went into debt to execute this project.

She was the original "it" girl, a Florentine who became the toast of Parisian society at the tender age of 19.
Seduce she did. Fluent in several languages including an unaccented English, the Countess' combination of youth, beauty and brains made her the most talked-about woman in Paris salons -- not least because she became mistress to Napoleon within weeks of her arrival.
By late 1879 Countess Castiglione was a recluse. She would not relinquish the past. She only went out at night. She had known glorious triumphs and insufferable scandals and tragedy. (Her only child, Giorgio, who had sat for many portraits, died of smallpox). For many years she had been under the care of a renowned psychiatrist, and despite her many physical and mental ailments she continued to produce portraits throughout the 1890's.
The hair was thin and the teeth were gone, only the costuming was the same. The confident gaze is replaced by a deep sadness.

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