Countess Virginia Oldoini Verasis di Castiglione (1835–1899)
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Image: 18.7 x 13.6 cm (7 3/8 x 5 3/8 in.)
Mount: 32.3 x 23.8 cm (12 11/16 x 9 3/8 in.)
Mat: 50.8 x 40.6 cm (20 x 16 in.)
Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005
Not on view
Inscription: Inscribed in pencil on mount, verso TL: "Comtesse de Castiglione"
Maurice Levert; (Pescheteau-Badin, Godeau & Leroy, Paris, January 28, 1995, lot 90); Gilman Paper Company Collection, New York
Musée d'Orsay. "La Divine Comtesse: Photographs of the Countess Castiglione," October 11, 1999–January 23, 2000.
Palazzo Cavour, Turin. "Countess of Castiglione," March 30, 2000–July 2, 2000.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "La Divine Comtesse: Photographs of the Countess Castiglione," September 18, 2000–December 31, 2000.
Apraxine, Pierre, and Xavier Demange. La Divine Comtesse: Photographs of the Countess de Castiglione. New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000. no. 44, p. 176, ill. p. 130 (this print).
Corgnati, Martina, and Cecilia Ghibaudi. La Contessa Di Castiglione e Il Suo Tempo. Cinisello Balsamo, Italy: Silvana Editoriale, 2000. p. 204.
The composition of this large portrait is a play in triangular forms. The high-waisted dress whose skirt is fitted under the bust with a gigantic red velvet box, its rounded ends forming an apron, constitutes a first triangle. The second is formed by the Countess's bare arms, the hands folded under the chin. Her hair is piled high and adorned with a large red butterfly bow. This monolithic silhouette was high fashion at the time, there being something about it of a traditional Spanish Holy Virgin. The model was made to look more imposing, achieving an exaggerated long-wasted look, by having stools slipped under the skirt. The quality of this print and the care lavished on its borders suggest that the portrait was part of the Countess's own collection, as described by Montesquiou (1913, p. 98). It was Montesquiou who gave the photograph its title. The negative is in the Mayer & Pierson archive (2/68). There are several versions of the portrait in half-length. [PA; "La Divine Comtesse", p. 176]