Man Ray, La Marquise Casati, 1935. Vintage silver print, flush-mounted to original card

Luisa Casati, Man Ray's Muse and Subject

By Yanis de Cambon

T he marquise Luisa Casati (1881-1957) was one of the most extravagant, yet relatively unknown society figures from the beginning of last century. Patron and muse of several artists, she lived a life as legendary as her reputation.

Man Ray (1890 – 1976), La Marquise Casati, 1935 . Vintage silver print, flush-mounted to original card. Signed in pencil in the lower right corner. Signed on the card by Luisa Casati stamp (M9) and annotation in an unknown hand on the reverse of the card.

She was a force of nature and made her mark on everyone she met, exerting a magnetism on her contemporaries. The marquise used the public realm as a theatre scene of a play where she was very much the star. Her every public appearance was a true show, since she wanted to be, as she said “a living work of art”.

Text on the reverse of the card by an unknown hand. L'Imperatrice Elizabeth d'Autriche dressant ses chevaux « Flick et Flock ». Par la Marquise Casati au Bal du Comte de Beaumont, Paris Juillet 1935.

This photograph taken in 1935 illustrates the last public appearance of Luisa Casati. It was during one of the famous costume balls hosted by Count and Countess Étienne de Beaumont, where “le Tout-Paris” used to rush, that Man Ray took the opportunity to take her portrait. Among the regular guests were Pablo Picasso, Tristan Tzara and Erik Satie.

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