oldoini

Virginia Oldoini was born to minor nobles in Tuscany in 1837. When she was 17, they married her off to a guy 12 years older than her. But a year later her cousin decided that it would be a lot more convenient to his career and country if Virginia was available to have sex with someone else. Namely, Napoleon III.

See, at that time, what we now call Italy was a bunch of smaller countries, and Virginia’s cousin was part of the group that wanted them to unify. He took one look at his hot, young, close relative and realized the best plan was to get her to cheat on her husband with Napoleon and hope some political pillow talk could turn the tide. Because 19th-century Europe was apparently an alternate-universe Game Of Thrones, complete with a short guy and creepy family relationships. Virginia managed to become the emperor’s mistress for over a year, and shortly after it ended he sent troops to unite the peninsula.

5 Women From History Who Were Basically Magic At Sex

Virginia Oldoini, Countess of Castiglione (22 March 1837 – 28 November 1899), better known as La Castiglione, was an Italian aristocrat who achieved notoriety as a mistress of Emperor Napoleon III of France. She was also a significant figure in the early history of photography.

n 1856 she began sitting for Mayer and Pierson, photographers favored by the imperial court. Over the next four decades she directed Pierre-Louis Pierson to help her create 700 different photographs in which she re-created the signature moments of her life for the camera. She spent a large part of her personal fortune and even went into debt to execute this project. Most of the photographs depict the Countess in her theatrical outfits, such as the Queen of Hearts dress. A number of photographs depict her in poses risqué for the era—notably, images that expose her bare legs and feet. In these photos, her head is cropped out.

Scherzo di Follia
Artist: Pierre-Louis Pierson (French, 1822–1913)
Person in Photograph: Countess Virginia Oldoini Verasis di Castiglione (1835–1899)
Date: 1863–66, printed 1940s
Medium: Gelatin silver print from glass negative

The Met

The Gaze
Artist: Pierre-Louis Pierson (French, 1822–1913)
Person in Photograph: Countess Virginia Oldoini Verasis di Castiglione (1835–1899)
Date: 1856–57
Medium: Albumen silver print from glass negative

The Met

[Countess de Castiglione, from 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

The Met