What's In A Name? Luisa Casati


Luisa Casati | Getty Images


The logical connection between the name of this winning filly and the name of her dam would have been crystal-clear in the first decades of the twentieth century–at least in Paris, Venice and London. Italian-born Marchesa Luisa Casati (1881-1957) was a high society celebrity with strong links to diverse characters in the worlds of art, fashion and literature. In fact, such connections seem to be infinite, as they include: celebrated painter August John (painted her and loved her), poet Ezra Pound (wrote about her), beat writer Jack Kerouac (mentioned her in a poem), avant-garde artist Man Ray (photographed her), Italian artist Filippo Marinetti (considered her “a fellow futurist”), art collector Peggy Guggenheim (whose Venice villa was once owned by the Marchesa), photographer Cecil Beaton (her friend to the last), poet and political adventurist Gabriele D'Annunzio (lover). And I am not finished: there are other painters, like Giovanni Boldini (author of the painting above); actresses like Vivien Leigh and Ingrid Bergman, who both played characters based on Casati; fashion designers John Galliano, Alexander McQueen and Karl Lagerfeld, who all presented Casati-inspired collections. There is talk of famous party encounters with Pablo Picasso, Isadora Duncan, Nijinsky (the dancer), even TE Lawrence.

Marchesa Casati died destitute and did not leave anything durable: she just flew like a comet, blazing her trail. Ephemeral? Maybe. But, not totally impermanent. Therefore, a possible answer to the very Shakespearean question “What's In A Name?” may be, sometimes: the magic of other connected names, the number and nature of multiple personal associations, the repetitions, the imponderables.

So much so that the inscription on Casati's tombstone in Brompton Cemetery in London reads “Age cannot wither her, not custom stale her infinite variety.” Hopefully the promising equine namesake from Lambourn does not feel the weight of this formidable quote from, yes, the Bard's “Antony and Cleopatra.”


Luisa Casati (Ire), f, 3, Vadamos (Fr)–La Marchesa (Ire), by Duke
of Marmalade (Ire). Lingfield, 6-28, 10fT, 2:15.52. B-Mark
Dixon & Mount Coote Estates (Ire). *30,000gns Ylg '19 TADEYG

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