There’s a lot of things to be said about the Countess de Castiglione, but I’m tired, and in a terrible mood, so if you want to know more about her, you can read this article in the New York Times.
Instead of giving you facts—because honestly, fact checking, just like grammar, is noisome—I’m going to write this biography after only cursorily reading her Wikipedia page. Which means that I made most of this shit up. Imagine me listening to “Ice” by Kelly Rowland, featuring Lil Wayne for absolutely no reason besides the fact that I am actually listening to it right now, as you’re reading this.
The Countess de Castiglione was born in Florence sometime around 1837. Actually, I just Googled it. She was born exactly in 1837. Here’s to my fucking memory.
Her parents were minor nobility. The entirety of her youth, they were like flitting around and wearing colored silk, and looking for the appropriate match for her. Her father was probably fucking a few nursemaids, or whatever. He’s Italian, right? Her mother was probably heavily into nuns and religion.
When she turned 17, they married her to the Count of Castiglione, who fortunately did not have his penis blown off during the war (that was a reference to the Barefoot Contessa starring Ava Gardner, fyi), but seemed like he might have been a complete and utter bore.
He was 12 years her senior. He gave her a son Giorgione. When Giorgione came out of her vagina, the Countess said, “Let’s put a sailor’s outfit on him, and treat him like a pet monkey.”
And so, it came to pass, as it had been written in Scripture.
The Countess of Castiglione was, according to history, extraordinarily beautiful, but according to the photographs that remain, which number in the many hundreds, she was only ‘aight.
At some point in her youth, the Countess started up with Napoleon III.
When they fucked, she kneeled on a chair, and neighed like a donkey.
“Show me your ankle, Ginie (her real name was Virginia),” the Emperor squealed.
“I can’t feel a thing!” the Countess hooted, ecstatically.
“Very, very bad girl!”
It was rumored that the Countess had eyes that changed from piss yellow to pearl gray at the sight of a jewel.
Ginie made great friends with the Emperor’s official court photographer, Pierre-Louis Pierson, who ended up taking hundreds of pictures of him during their lifetimes. I’ll leave it up to you to figure out where that previous sentence stopped making sense.
In the photographs, Ginie dressed herself up in her many costumes, and used Giorgione, her pet monkey, as a prop.
She posed as the courtesan in her silk bedchamber, as Anne Boleyn, as Lady MacBeth, as a corpse.
Infamously, as the Queen of Hearts.
This one is obviously Cleopatra.
This one I’m pretty sure is Jo March.
This one, allegedly, she called “Vengeance,” and sent to her husband when he threatened to take Giorgione away from her.
Watch out! (Love those sandals.)
These pictures, some of them she tinted.
Others, she sent to friends.
And yet others she kept for herself.
And as she aged, she lost her mind a bit.
The Emperor dumped her. The court made her into a fool.
Still, she exerted influence over politics. It is rumored that she had a hand in the formation of the Italian state.
And in convincing Otto Von Bismarck not to invade Italy.
What can I say, she gave a great BJ.
She died when she was 140, but not until she gave birth to a litter of cats.
To you, Comtesse, for being called a narcissist for no fault of your own, except that you weren’t born in the era of Facebook.
For the many wonderful pictures of you that remain.
For your various states of repose.
For being a Surrealist before the Surrealists, for being a personal brander before Twitter.
”She would appear at gatherings like a goddess descended from the clouds,” a contemporary noted, and she would ”allow people to admire her as if she were a shrine.”
The Princess Metternich oohed about her: ”Wonderful hair, the waist of a nymph, and a complexion the color of pink marble! In a word, Venus descended from Olympus!” But, the princess added, ”after a few moments she began to get on your nerves.”
For you, Countess, Comtessa. 113 years after your death, my darling, you’re my Icon of the Week.