“Virginia Oldoini, Countess of Castiglione (1837–1899), better known as La Castiglione , was an Italian aristocrat who achieved notoriety as a mistress of Emperor Napoleon III of France. The Countess was known for her beauty and her flamboyant entrances in elaborate dress at the imperial court.
“For four decades she directed Pierre-Louis Pierson to help her create 700 different photographs in which she re-created the signature moments of her life for the camera. She spent a large part of her personal fortune and even went into debt to execute this project.
“La Castiglione spent her declining years in an apartment in the Place Vendôme, where she had the rooms decorated in funereal black, the blinds kept drawn, and mirrors banished—apparently so she would not have to confront her advancing age and loss of beauty. She would only leave the apartment at night.”