Pierre-Louis Pierson (1822 - 1913) - Aquilin... - Lot 24 - Ader

Lot 24
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Estimation :
30000 - 40000 EUR
Pierre-Louis Pierson (1822 - 1913) - Aquilin... - Lot 24 - Ader

Pierre-Louis Pierson (1822 - 1913) - Aquilin Schad (attributed to)

The Countess of Castiglione.

The Sultana, 1865.


Vintage photograph enlarged and painted with gouache, mounted on cardboard and in its original frame. Handwritten title and date in the hand of the Countess of Castiglione on the reverse. Label "Ancienne maison Mayer & Pierson - Maison Ad. Braun & Cie - Braun & Cie, Succrs" on the reverse of the frame. Small scratch on the upper right.

45,3 x 29,7 cm


Provenance:

Collection of a Corsican family since the 1920s, by descent.


Virginia Oldoïni, who became Countess of Castiglione through her marriage in 1854, was described as "the most beautiful woman of her century". She has remained famous not only for having been the mistress of Emperor Napoleon III, the sultry courtesan at the heart of the social evenings and political intrigues of the European courts and Paris of the 1850s and 1860s, but also for her immense contribution to the art of photographic portraiture in the second half of the 19th century.

The portraits of the Castiglione created between 1856 and 1895 by Pierre-Louis Pierson, who was also the Emperor's official photographer, became the stuff of legend during what will be remembered as the longest collaboration in the history of portraiture between a photographer and his model.

Through the three periods retraced (1856-1858, 1861-1867 and 1893-1895), the complicity between the countess, who imagined the settings, and Pierson, a particularly gifted practitioner, generated a corpus of more than 400 images (the Mayer & Pierson collection is kept at the Musée Unterlinden in Colmar).

Among the images produced, the most intriguing and mysterious are undoubtedly the painted photographs, for which Mayer and Pierson are specialists and for which they use a solar chamber in order to obtain larger works. Often considered an eccentricity in photographic art, they reveal the extravagance of the Countess, both in her wounded narcissism and in her rejection of reality, creating through her various characters a false biography. In this respect, the self-portrait as obsessively practiced by the Castiglione precedes by almost a century contemporary artistic works on identity such as those of Claude Cahun, Pierre Molinier, Sophie Calle or Cindy Sherman.

In the painted photograph presented here, we find the influence of Second Empire fashion prints and dramatic art. This femme fatale with an expression of weariness, casualness, even smugness, seduction and contempt, strives to highlight the richness of her dresses, while supporting the narrative content of her portraits with the attitude of her gesture and the expressive power of her gaze. All these attentions and provocations earned her the admiration of Robert de Montesquiou, who worshipped the Countess by gathering a very important collection of her photographs.

"Chaste and tragic heroine, femme fatale or stripper Venus, she succeeded in imbuing the work done with Pierson with an aura of ambivalence and mysterious strangeness."

Pierre Apraxine, La Comtesse de Castiglione par elle-même, exhibition catalogue, Musée d'Orsay, 12 October 1999 - 23 January 2000,RMN, 1999, p. 42.


Pierre-Louis Pierson (1822 - 1913) - Aquilin Schad (attributed to)

The Countess of Castiglione.

The Sultana, 1865.

Vintage photograph enlarged and painted with gouache, mounted on cardboard and in its original frame. Title and date handwritten in ink by the Countess of Castiglione on the reverse. Label "Ancienne maison Mayer & Pierson - Maison Ad. Braun & Cie - Braun & Cie, Succrs" on the verso of the frame. Small scratch at top right.


45.3 x 29.7 cm


Provenance :

Collection of a Corsican family since the 1920s, by descent.

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