Socialite, Patron of the Arts. Born Luisa Adele Rosa Maria Amman, the younger daughter of Alberto Amman and his wife, Lucia Bressi. Luisa's father was created a count by Umberto I of Italy. Countess Amman died when Luisa was thirteen, and Count Amman died two years later. The sisters were the wealthiest heiresses in Italy at that time. She and her sister, Francesca, were then raised by their uncle, Edouardo Amman. At eighteen, she married Camillo, Marchese Casati Stampa di Soncino. A year later, their only child, Maria Cristina, was born. The couple maintained separate residences for the entirety of their marriage, in 1910 she established herself at the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni in Venice. Since a child in no way fit into her preferred lifestyle, she sent her daughter away to a convent school and rarely saw her. The marchesa became famous for her eccentricities as well as her extravagance. She patronized many artists in her lifetime and became a well known patroness of the arts and fashion leader. She titillated her chosen society by promenading with a pair of leashed cheetahs in diamond collars, taking evening strolls, naked beneath a fur, and wearing live snakes as jewelry. The gardens of her palazzo featured albino blackbirds and an exotic animal menagerie. She also maintained a mansion outside Paris, featuring a private art gallery where she kept more than one hundred and thirty images of herself. She had herself painted by Giovanni Boldini, Augustus John, Kees Van Dongen, Romaine Brooks and Ignacio Zuloaga, John Singer Sargent; and photographed by Man Ray, Cecil Beaton and Baron Adolph de Meyer; many of them drafted to “commission her immortality." Writers also figured into her stable of acquaintances, Robert de Montesquiou, Romain de Tirtoff, Jean Cocteau, Cecil Beaton, and Michel Georges-Michel who was said to have based the character of La Casinelle, who appeared in 'Dans la fete de Venise' (1922) and 'Nouvelle Riviera '(1924), upon her. She also had a long term affair with the author Gabriele d'Annunzio who reportedly based the character of Isabella Inghirami in 'Forse che si forse che no' (1910) upon her. Her patronage of young artists also included Arthur Rubinstein; for whom she arranged a debut concert. By 1930, her extravagant lifestyle had caught up with her, and she had amassed a debt reaching into the millions. Creditors seized her property and auctioned it off even as she fled to London. Living in reduced circumstances for the next two decades of her life, former lovers, such as Augustus John, and various friends, helped her financially. Her grand-daughter, Lady Moorea Hastings, took a liking to her, and arranged for a nurse to visit when needed. She died at age 76, and was buried with her predeceased Pekinese dog at her feet. Her name is misspelled on her tombstone. In 1999, "Infinite Variety: The Life and Legend of Marchesa Casati" was published, followed by the 2009 release of "The Merchesa Casati: Portraits of a Muse." They are the only family-authorized biographies of her. Characters based on her appeared in the motion pictures “La Contessa” (1965) and “A Matter of Time” (1976). In 1998, 2007, and 2009, various clothing designers such as Christian Dior and Karl Lagerfeld, cited her as inspiration for their collections.
Bio by: Iola