Virginia Oldoini: The Countess of Castiglione

When the Count and Countess traveled to Paris in 1855, the Countess was under her cousin’s instructions to plead the cause of Italian unity with Napoleon III of France. She achieved notoriety by becoming Napoleon III’s mistress, a scandal that led her husband to demand a marital separation. The Countess returned to Italy in 1857 when her affair with Napoleon III was over. Four years later, the Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed, conceivably in part due to the influence that the Countess had exerted on Napoleon III. The Countess was known for her beauty and her flamboyant entrances in elaborate dress at the imperial court of France where she later commissioned and directed the court photographer, Pierre-Louis Pierson, to help her create 700 different photographs in which she re-created the signature moments of her life for the camera. Following are several of her photos. [Wikipedia]

Photos from Pierre-Louis Pierson collection

Back to Galleries