Marchesa Luisa Casati - Man Ray 1922
Portrait of Marchesa Luisa Casati with a Greyhound Giovanni Boldini 1908
Portrait of Marchesa Casati - Augustus John 1912
Luisa Casati (1881-1957) was an heiress, art patron and hostess to legendary lavish parties. She was also the subject of a surprising number of artworks by celebrated painters and photographers. A new book, The Marchesa Casati: Portraits of a Muse explores her life and style, lushly illustrated with more than 200 images.
Reading about her nomadic lifestyle, with palatial residences in Italy and France where exotic pets roamed freely, she is not unlike contemporary wealthy albeit eccentric celebrities. But considering that she traveled in circles with Pablo Picasso, John Singer Sargeant, Marcel Proust, Cecil Beaton, and Nijinsky and inspired the likes of Fortuny, Salvador Dali, Coco Chanel, Colette and Cartier she is elevated beyond mere party girl.
The sculptor Catherine Barjanksky said, “She was so different from other women that ordinary clothes were impossible for her." She once arrived at a ball wearing white feathers streaked with fresh blood, causing several guests to faint. Luisa was criticized for her scandalous behavior, her outrageous fashion and her immeasurable vanity. Despite that, her ambition wasn't the pursuit of shock value, she defiantly declared, "'I want to be a living work of art.'