Requiem for a marchesa

On Saturday, June 1, 1957, not long after a spiritualist session with Sydney Farmer, Luisa suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died in her flat at three in the afternoon. She was seventy-six years old. The chapel at Harrods arranged her funeral. Learning of her death, Farmer made up a new set of false eyelashes for her and collected one of the taxidermed Pekinese. The Marchesa was laid out in the black and leopard finery that had served as her uniform for the past decade. A requiem mass was given at ten o’clock on the morning of June 5 in the Chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows at Brompton Oratory, where Casati’s bier was surrounded by white carnations. Mourners at the service include Lady Moorea Black and her then husband Woodrow Wyatt; Sydney Farmer; Fred Rainer; and Robert Heber Percy, the late Lord Berner’s companion. Also in attendance, but remaining anonymous, was Emilio Basaldella, the ever-faithful gondolier of the Palazzo dei Leoni. Neither Augustus John nor Cecil Beaton was present. Before the coffin was sealed, one of Luisa’s stuffed Pekinese was slipped inside to rest at her feet.

– from Infinite Variety: The Life and Legend of the Marchesa Casati, by Scot D. Ryersson and Michael Orlando


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