Série des Roses

Artist: Pierre-Louis Pierson (French, 1822–1913)

Person in Photograph: Countess Virginia Oldoini Verasis di Castiglione (1835–1899)

Date: 1895

Medium: Albumen silver print from glass negative

Dimensions: Approximately 14.3 x 9.9 cm (5 5/8 x 3 7/8 in.) each

Classification: Albums

Credit Line: Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005

Accession Number: 2005.100.387.1–.11


In the last years of her life, Countess de Castiglione, now a prematurely aged, toothless, and bald recluse, invited her former collaborator Pierre-Louis Pierson, himself over seventy years old, to photograph her in the various attires of her youth. Two identical sets of ten images, each assembled in booklet form, show her in a ball gown, striking different poses as in the tableaux vivants she had composed thirty years earlier. In one of the booklets, she disguised her girth with pinned-down slivers of paper indicating where the negative should be retouched. The countess described her outfit on the cover as a dress of "pompadour pink silk, peignoir of black gauze, real roses, and a curly blond wig." She named the set "Série des roses," giving each image a title appropriate to its mood. The countess called this portrait "Rose Trémière," or hollyhock, which in France is associated with the grave.