courtesan Giulia Beneni Barucci, 1850s-60s


Madame Giulia Beneni Barucci aka “La Barrucci” (1837-1870) by Alexandre Ken, ca. 1850s-60s

La Barucci (Giulia Beneni) won favour through her Italian looks, her indefatigable determination to win the lover of her choice, and her charming, child-like spontaneity. She would proudly show off her jewellery cabinet to her visitor, the contents of which were said to be worth millions, and she kept her visiting cards in a china bowl by her fireplace – cards which bore the names of nearly every name in high society at the time. When meeting the Prince of Wales (the future Edward VII), she was told to behave with decorum. Upon being introduced, she promptly let her dress fall to the ground, without a word of warning. When she was reprimanded, she exclaimed, “What, did you not tell me to behave properly to His Royal Highness? I showed him the best I have, and it was free!

Guilia Barruci by Alexandre Ken / Collection Ron Sheeley

Another photo of la Barucci, ca. 1865:

source: Amsterdam Museum, Decadent Handbook, Pinterest

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