Some years ago whilst working in Paris, I was given a copy of Cecil Beaton's book: The Glass of Fashion. This is where I first discovered the fabulous society portraits of fashionable Edwardian figures such as Countess Zichy, Rita de Acosta Lydig and the Duchess of Marlborough, all by the incredible Italian painter Giovanni Boldini.
Tilda Swinton as The Marchesa Casati by Paolo Roversi
Click to Enlarge
With my magpie's eye widened, my introduction to what is now one of my favourite Boldini paintings of the Marchesa Casati swiftly followed. Her infamous bewitching eyes were like hypnotic chasms in which I, like so many others, became instantly entranced.
Marchesa Casati with a Greyhound by Giovanni Boldini 1908
Helleu, Boldini and Casati in Venice 1913. Photograghed by Mario Fortuny
The Marchesa Luisa Casati turned heads with every entrance she made. Holding grand Venetian balls in St Mark's Square with gold-leafed, half-naked men holding velvet ropes to keep the uninvited out, styling herslf in the most incredible dresses and costumes Europe had ever seen, wearing eye shadow made of velvet paired with live snakes as jewellery. Rumour has it that whilst hosting the Ballet Russes wearing a creation comprised exclusively of egret plumes, every movement she made caused the gown to moult right before everyone's eyes.
Queen of the Night costume by Portrait by Augustus John
Leon Bakst 1922 1919
Living with a menagerie of exotic and mechanical animals in a rose marble mansion just outside Paris or in the grandeur of her Venetian Palazzo, squandering a huge fortune on a life of extravagance and courting the who's who of the Belle Epoque, the Marchesa stole the show wherever she went.
When the years of excess and partying took their toll and the debtors began knocking 'Luisa' escaped to London, living in what is now the Beaufort Hotel close to Harrods. Buried in Brompton Cemetary in leopard skin and false eyelashes with the quotation " Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety" inscribed on her tomb.
Tilda Swinton as Casati by Paolo Roversi for Acne
She's coming to get you!
Photo by Baron Adolf de Meyer 1912
To celebrate the gothic month of October in style, join us in our
Queen of the Night Giveaway
Queen of the Night Giveaway
We have a copy of one of my very favourite books to giveaway in time for Halloween.
The Marchesa Casati: Portrait of a Muse by Scott Ryersson and Michael Yaccarino
A fabulous addition for your Autumn coffee table.
All welcome, new and existing followers. Join up and join in.
To be in with a chance of winning just.
A. Follow (Worldwide) The Magical Christmas Wreath Company Blog
B. Leave a comment below
C. (Optional) Mention this giveaway on your Blog, Facebook or Twitter & return to let us know here for a 2nd entry into the giveaway.
One lucky winner will be picked at random from the comments below on 19th October 2012