The Countess de Castiglione (ca.1856–57)
Salt print with pigment
This hand-colored photograph features Virginia Oldioni, the Countess de Castiglione. Between 1856 and 1895, the Countess worked with photographer Pierre-Louis Pierson to create more than 400 self-portraits. Fascinated by photography’s capacity to shape identity, the Countess played a direct role in the creation of each work. She chose outfits, determined poses and directed Pierson on how to enlarge some of her images.
by Carol Ann Duffy
Far, we are near, meet in the rain
which falls here; gathered by light, air;
falls there where you are, I am; lips
to those drops now on yours, nearer …
absence the space we yearn in, clouds
drift, cluster, east to west, north, south;
your breath in them; they pour, baptise;
same sun burning through to harvest
rainfall on skin, there, far; my mouth
opening to spell your near name.
“The flower is the poetry of reproduction. It is an example of the eternal seductiveness of life.”
– Jean Giraudoux