Virginia Review Topic
Virginia Elisabetta Luisa Carlotta Antonietta Teresa Maria Oldo´ni was born in Florence to minor Tuscan nobility. At 17, she married Francesco Verasis, conte di Castiglione, and bore him one son. In 1855, she traveled to Paris as a diplomat with instructions to plead the case for Italian unity with Napoleon III. She displayed an impressive gift for foreign affairs, becoming Napoleon III's mistress and gaining entrance to a glittering social circle that included the cream of European royalty. During this time, she wielded a great deal of political clout as both a courtesan and a spy, and her influence was such that she was instrumental in helping to protect Paris from a Prussian occupation. Considered by many to be the first fashion model, she directed Pierre-Louis Pierson at the Mayer & Pierson studio in Paris to assist in accumulating over seven hundred photographs documenting pivotal moments in her life and flashes of Surrealist artistic symbolism. Photos from this period include images of her in a nun's habit, as a virgin drowned, as a corpse, and also as Lady Macbeth sleepwalking, Judith entering the tent of Holofernes, Anne Boleyn, and Goya's Nude Maja.
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