Virginia Oldoini, Countess of Castiglione (1837 – 1899), was a beautiful 19th-century Italian aristocrat. 1. Upon moving to Paris in 1855, she achieved notoriety... Via toutceciestmagnifique.com The Opera Ball 2. ...as a mistress of Emperor Napoleon III of France. Via toutceciestmagnifique.com The Opera Ball 3. She was known for her great beauty... Via pinterest.com La Marquise Mathilde 4. ...vanity... 5. ...and eccentricity. 6. The countess spent her fortune on elaborate dresses... 7. ...and costumes. The Queen of Hearts 8. Often making flamboyant entrances into society parties. Judith 9. Which shocked Parisian high society. Via toutceciestmagnifique.com Anne Boleyn 10. But it was in the world of photography... Rachel 11. ...where the countess left her real legacy. Via historyinphotos.blogspot.com 12. She served as a model... Via alessandrahautumn.tumblr.com Béatrix 13. ...muse... 14. ...and collaborator... Via luminous-lint.com The White Nun 15. ...of imperial court photographer Pierre-Louis Pierson. Via ananasamiami.com 16. Unlike most models, though... La Dogaresse 17. ...The countess dictated all aspects of her photos.... Via pinterest.com 18. ...creating the scenarios... Elvira at the Cheval Glass 19. ...and characters herself. Via ananasamiami.com Ermitage de Passy 20. The countess spent a large part of her personal fortune on the photos. Via pinterest.com La Comtesse in Chinese Robe 21. Even going into debt to execute her project. Via pinterest.com La Grayeur 22. Over her 40-year collaboration with Pierson... Via pinterest.com Reine d'Etrurie 23. ....the countess appeared in more than 700 photographs. Via pinterest.com Medea 24. Leaving behind beautiful... Via historyinphotos.blogspot.com 25. ...and surreal photos. Via pinterest.com Pensive Biographical information via: The New York Times and Wikipedia.