The Countess de Castiglione was a 19th century Italian noblewoman of phenomenal beauty. Not only was she gorgeous, she also possessed an intensely seductive magnetism and despite being married at age seventeen- she seduced Vittorio Emanuele II of Savoia, and Emperor Napoleon III.
The year she seduced Napoleon visited the famous photographer Pierre-Louis Pierson who photograped her in various costumes: A devious and menacing Lady Macbeth, a princess drowning in taffeta and powdered wigs, a tipsy barfly, a dour nun and an odalisque. Most shocking of all was when she permitted Pierson to photograph her bare feet and legs, shocking and risqué for the times.
Although her brazen attitude eventually found her banished, her legendary beauty, stories of her brazen seductions and her rare appearances at masquerade balls sent great ripples through French society.
When her looks began to fade, she retreated from society and had all her walls painted black and all mirrors were removed. She only left her dwelling at night, wrapped in heavy veils to walk her beloved dog. At 60 years old, she wrote of her youth: “The Eternal Father did not realize what He had created that day He brought her into the world. He formed her so superbly that when it was done He lost His head at the contemplation of this marvellous work.”