The Comtesse de Castiglione (Florence 1837 - Paris 1899)
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