I had only vaguely heard of the Countess di Castiglione. Wasn’t she the mistress of someone famous?
Turns out she was — she was the mistress of Emperor Napoleon III of France. But that was really only one part of her life. The other part was as a pioneer of photography, which was in its earliest days.
She was both a patron of the art and a model. Take a look at these photos. Although taken in the 1860’s, they are almost dada-esque with their unusual posing and somewhat absurd quality.
The one with only one eye really appeals to me.
And did I tell you she was also a spy? Well, really maybe only a “lobbyist.” She was an avid supporter of Italian independence, using her influence with Napoleon III to forward that cause.
In a day when women never showed their legs, this must have been a shocker.