The Comtesse de Castiglione (Florence 1837 - Paris 1899)

photograph
Pierre-Louis PiersonThe Stare© Gilman Paper Company Collection, New York
Robert de Montesquiou was entranced by this character who was not unlike him by his narcissism. An Italian aristocrat living in Paris, glittering lioness of the Second Empire, Napoleon III's mistress, the "divine comtesse" lived afterwards as a recluse, going out only by night, veiled in black. With Pierre Louis Pierson's help, she was her own photographer until her decline was accomplished : over four hundred shots celebrate her image, her costumes, her body, her attitudes, according to a ritual she entirely determined, with a surprizingly modern formal invention.


Exhibition organised by the Musée d'Orsay in collaboration with the Howard Gilman Foundation, New York

Curators

Pierre Apraxine, curator, Gilman Paper CompanyCollection, New York, Xavier Demange, historian specialised in 19th-century society and Françoise Heilbrun, chief curator, Musée d'Orsay.

Publication

Exhibition catalogue
La Divine Comtesse: Photographs of the Countess de Castiglione
Yale University Press, New Haven and London, in association with The Metropolitan Museum of Art

12 October 1999 - 23 January 2000
Musée d'Orsay

galleries 67, 68


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