Marchesa Casati, 1919, oil on canvas, the collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in Toronto.
Luisa Casati was an eccentric Italian heiress, muse, and patroness of the arts in early 20th century Europe. As the concept of dandy was expanded to include women, she fitted the utmost female example by saying: "I want to be a living work of art".
A celebrity and femme fatale, marchesa’s famous eccentricities dominated and delighted European society for nearly three decades. The beautiful and extravagant hostess to the Ballets Russes was something of a legend among her contemporaries. She astonished society by parading with a pair of leashed cheetahs and wearing live snakes as jewellery.