The Scandal Behind the Portrait….

Luisa Casati, Augustus John portrait in the Art Gallery of Ontario

Another crazy lady.  Luisa  Casati (d. 1957), featured in a lush picturebook The Marchesa Casati:Portraits of a Muse , is described as  ”possibly the most artistically represented woman in history after the Virgin Mary and Cleopatra, the portraits, sculptures and photographs of her would fill a gallery. In a quest for immortality, she had herself painted by Giovanni Boldini, Augustus John, Kees Van Dongen, Romaine Brooks and Ignacio Zuloaga; sketched by Drian, Alberto Martini and Alastair; sculpted by Giacomo Balla, Catherine Barjansky and Jacob Epstein; and photographed by Man Ray….”

I remember her differently.  In the lush green Thames Valley where I lived as a child, there was quite a buzz when it was known that we had our first commie nobs in the neighbourhood, an heir to a peerage and his wife Cristina – the daughter it was breathed of the scandalous Marchesa di Casati.  ”Surely you remember,” a neighbour said over a glass of sherry and over the childrens’ heads ” she’s the woman who gave that ball and painted the gardener’s boys gold. “All over?’ “Yes”  ”Oh No, what happened?” “Of course they died. “

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