From a fascinating article at the MET -
Fascinated by her own beauty, the countess would attempt to capture all its facets and re-create for the camera the defining moments of her life. Far from being merely a passive subject, it was she who decided the expressive content of the images and assumed the art director's role, even to the point of choosing the camera angle. She also gave precise directions on the enlargement and repainting of her images in order to transform the simple photographic documents into imaginary visions—taking up the paintbrush herself at times. Her painted photographs are among the most beautiful examples of the genre.
There is a lot going on in this photo! Her hair, her gown with all that trim, the fan ... wow!
|Virginia Oldoini, Countess di Castiglione posing as “Elvira,” circa 1861-1867|
|Virginia Oldoini, Countess di Castiglione|