THE MARCHESA LUISA CASATI: PORTRAITS IN WORDS

The door to the room where we sat chatting suddenly opened. A dead woman entered. Her superb body was modelling a dress of white satin that was wrapped around her like a shroud and dragged behind her. A bouquet of orchids hid her breast. Her hair was red and her complexion livid like alabaster. Her face was devoured by two enormous eyes, whose black pupils almost overwhelmed her mouth painted a red so vivid that it seemed like a strip of coagulated blood. In her arms, she carried a baby leopard. It was the Marchesa Casati. Gabriel-Louis Pringué


But her alchemy was much more complex, producing many other marvels. By what fire did she transmute the substance of her life into the beauties of such moving power? She demonstrated how true it is that all enchantment is a madness induced with art. But what was the real essence of this creature? Was she aware of her continuous metamorphosis, or was she impenetrable to herself, excluded from her own mystery?
– Gabriele D’Annunzio




The Marchesa lived partly as a slave to her dream world. She had two venues: her palaces and her aristocratic circles. They served as stages where everyone was usually an actor, but when she made her entrance, they automatically became spectators or background extras.
– Alberto Martini

Her carrot-coloured hair hung in long curls. The enormous agate-black eyes seemed to be eating her thin face. Again she was a vision, a mad vision, surrounded as usual by her black and white greyhounds and a host of charming and utterly useless ornaments. But curiously enough she did not look unnatural. The fantastic garb really suited her. She was so different from other women that ordinary clothes were impossible for her.
– Catherine Barjansky

A black-gloved hand on which several rings sparkled, brushed the veil aside. The face was that of a sinister Pierrot, utterly white, the thin mouth a slit that seemed to be of the same black as the rings encircling the eyes. The high cheekbones, the forward-thrusting chin, the long neck bespoke the apparition's class. Was this the vampire Nosferatu in drag or the daughter of Dracula turned grandmother? Had Miss Havisham discarded her bridal veil for the costume of the Blue Angel? Assuredly it was no Madwoman of Chaillot. On this skeleton tawdry fineries had acquired an elegance beyond the canons of any fashion. This figure could arouse panic–but pity, never. – Philippe Jullian







Luisa Casati should be shot, stuffed and displayed in a glass case. – Augustus John


 

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