Exhibitions/ Art Object

The Red Bow

Artist:
Pierre-Louis Pierson (French, 1822–1913)
Artist:
Painted and retouched by Unknown (French)
Person in Photograph:
Countess Virginia Oldoini Verasis di Castiglione (1835–1899)
Date:
1861–67
Medium:
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Dimensions:
Image: 18.7 x 13.6 cm (7 3/8 x 5 3/8 in.) Mount: 32.3 x 23.8 cm (12 11/16 x 9 3/8 in.) Mat: 50.8 x 40.6 cm (20 x 16 in.)
Classification:
Photographs
Credit Line:
Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005
Accession Number:
2005.100.396
Not on view
Inscription: Inscribed in pencil on mount, verso TL: "Comtesse de Castiglione"
Maurice Levert; (Pescheteau-Badin, Godeau & Leroy, Paris, January 28, 1995, lot 90); Gilman Paper Company Collection, New York

The composition of this large portrait is a play in triangular forms. The high-waisted dress whose skirt is fitted under the bust with a gigantic red velvet box, its rounded ends forming an apron, constitutes a first triangle. The second is formed by the Countess's bare arms, the hands folded under the chin. Her hair is piled high and adorned with a large red butterfly bow. This monolithic silhouette was high fashion at the time, there being something about it of a traditional Spanish Holy Virgin. The model was made to look more imposing, achieving an exaggerated long-wasted look, by having stools slipped under the skirt. The quality of this print and the care lavished on its borders suggest that the portrait was part of the Countess's own collection, as described by Montesquiou (1913, p. 98). It was Montesquiou who gave the photograph its title. The negative is in the Mayer & Pierson archive (2/68). There are several versions of the portrait in half-length. [PA; "La Divine Comtesse", p. 176]
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