Friday, August 1, 2014

La Divine Comtesse: The Countess of Castiglione

Last weekend I flew out to California to attend the 'Once Upon a Time' fundraiser for Lotusland.    Lotusland was created by its 'head gardener' and owner Madame Ganna Walska, a renowned Polish beauty, a singer, a collector of rich husbands and the creator of an extraordinary garden, Lotusland.  

In 1921, after the death of the poet and dandy, Robert de Montesquiou, Ganna Walska bought an album of photographs of the notorious beauty and eccentric, the Countess de Castiglione.  Montesquiou was obsessed with the Countess of Castiglione and worked for thirteen years on her biography, La Divine Comtesse.  Madame Walska played the title role in the play La Castiglione in 1929.  No doubt the hundreds of photographs she had bought from Montesquiou's estate helped her research the extraordinary character of the Countess.

Before there was Cindy Sherman or Daphne Guinness, there was the Countess de Castiglione...  fantasy, fashion, photography...

"The remains of a ball where a fire has broken out.  A chandelier on the floor.  Everyone in flight.  Shining white satin gown, black and red grapes with dark green and red leaves..."
Countess of Castiglione

"rendered speechless by this miracle of beauty: wonderful hair, the waist of a nymph, and a complexion the color of pink marble!  In a word Venus descended from the clouds"
Princess Metternich

"The Eternal Father did not know what he was creating the day he sent her into the world; he modeled and modeled, and when he had finished he looked at his wondrous work and was overwhelmed.  He left her in a corner without assigning her a place.  Meanwhile he was called away, and when he returned, he found the corner where he had left her empty."
The Countess de Castiglione

love, kisses and be what you want to be, do what you want to do, Juliana

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