Beautiful, depraved

Intimacy. Debauchery. Irreverence.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

"Most scandalous woman of her day"

I could live with that moniker. I could certainly see myself wandering naked under my furs. Someone has already offered to buy me the cheetah.

"Nude servants gilded in gold leaf attended her. Bizarre wax mannequins sat as guests at her dining table. She wore live snakes as jewelry, and she was infamous for her evening strolls, naked beneath her furs, parading cheetahs on diamond-studded leashes."

Marchesa Luisa Casati lived (1881-1957) in Italy at the turn of the century. When her father passed away, Casati's inheritance deemed her and her sister the wealthiest women in the country. Luisa had a penchant for outrageousness and a great love for the arts. She was patroness to a number of emerging artists, remaining close and advising them throughout their careers. A contemporary and inspiration to Proust, Colette and Kerouac, her dinner parties were the stuff of legends (and Bunuel films). She commissioned a host of artists to capture her likeness with the only requirement being a daring and innovative portrait. Modern icons such as Dita von Teese and Karl Lagerfeld attribute some of their vision to her.

She lived in the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, on Grand Canal in Venice (now the home of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection). Peggy, who uttered one of my favorite quotes: "When asked how many husbands she'd had, Peggy replied: 'Do you mean my own or other people's?'"

The beauty of the eccentric and the wildly self-expressive is the permission they give to others to be themselves.

Photo: Camilla Akrans
Painting: Kerry Kate Patterson

Information sources: (quotes also) and wikipedia. Thanks G. for turning me onto her.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Visit and read INFINITE VARIETY (by Ryersson & Yaccarino) to know the whole, WILD story!

26/4/08 5:43 PM  
Blogger Viviane said...

Didn't Man Ray photograph her? There's a very striking photo of her, with kohl rimmed eyes, I've seen somewhere.

26/4/08 8:53 PM  
Blogger kasia said...


Man Ray did photograph her and she was famous for her dark, kohl rimmed eyes.

26/4/08 9:31 PM  

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