manon balletti

Portrait of Manon Balletti, 1757, by Jean-Marc Nattier (1685–1766)

The beautiful Manon was a lover and fiancee to the famous Giacomo Casanova, which began while Casanova was in his thirties, and Manon just seventeen.

She was very much in love with Casanova, having broke off a previous engagement to another man to be with him. She sent him many love letters and suffered through his many cases of infidelity in the hopes he would change his ways for her. This, however, never happened, and she could not stand his unfaithfulness any longer. She later married another man before dying in her thirties. Casanova harboured some guilt over her death due to the way he treated her. He had hoped one day they could settle down together, but he believed his abuse to her caused her stress that helped shorten her life.

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The Sick Child by Edvard Munch
The Lady with the Veil by Alexander Roslin - AKA Another of my Ultimate Favourites
Analysis of the painting Salomé, 1909, by Paul Antoine de la Boulaye
The Portrait of Manon Balletti, 1757, by Jean-Marc Nattier
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[women in history] -> manon baletti
Manon Balletti
(1740–1776) was the daughter of Italian actors performing in France and lover of the famous womanizer Giacomo Casanova. She was ten years old when she first met him; she happened to be the daughter of Silvia Balletti, an actress of the Comédie Italienne company and younger sister of Casanova’s closest friend.

The lovers started their relationship when Casanova was thirty-two years old and Manon was seventeen. (Although Manon’s mother was associated with acting, disreputable at the time, mother and daughter were observed by Casanova to be of a pure nature.) She wrote forty-two letters full of love and deep feelings for him; a well-known quote from these letters describes Casanova as: “My lover, my husband, my friend”. Casanova’s sexual passions caused him to be unfaithful, causing their three-year relationship to have numerous ups and downs. Yet she continued to share his home, found in Rue du Petit-Lion-St. Sauveur. Manon was at the time engaged to her clavichord teacher, but broke it off at Casanova’s request, thus starting a new engagement with him. This did not keep him from having various sexual relations with other women, yet Manon remained faithful to him. His memoirs record his regret for being unkind to her when having these affairs.
Once Casanova was imprisoned after he was sued by creditors in Paris. Manon sent a pair of diamond earrings with which she bought him out. Subsequently she ended the engagement and returned his portrait and letters. Manon married the architect Jacques-François Blondel a short while after, disappointing Casanova, who believed that he would one day be able to settle down with her.
Manon died at the age of 36, questionably from pulmonary hypertension. Casanova wrote in his memoirs that he believed his behavior shortened her life.

Manon Balletti (1757). Jean-Marc Nattier (French, 1685-1766). Oil on canvas. The National Gallery.

The sitter (1740-1776) was the daughter of an actress in the Comédie Italienne company, and became engaged to Casanova at age 17. In 1760 she married a more reputable though older suitor, the architect Jacques-François Blondel. Nattier’s representation is remarkable for its apparent simplicity. Liveliness is conveyed by the slight turn of the head and the attraction of the sitter emphasised by the rose pinned to her dress.