The Duchesse de Chartres was a cousin of Louis XV who Casanova befriended on his first visit to France. However, in the case of this Bourbon Princess, even Casanova recognised that she was too far out of his sphere for their relationship to advance beyond friendship. On one occasion, aware of Casanova’s reputation as a cabbalistic healer, she approached him for advice with regards to problems she had with her complexion (possibly she was suffering from acne) hoping that he would be able to find some sort of solution. For a woman at court who, when her skin was clear, was a noted beauty this caused her considerable unhappiness. Ian Kelly writes:
Casanova took pity on her – or saw an opportunity for advancement: he prescribed a strict diet, daily washing in fresh water, and the avoidance of pomades, or cosmetics. He also made it clear the cure would not be instant. It worked.
(‘Casanova: Actor, Spy, Lover, Priest’)
One of his key pieces of advice was the avoidance of cosmetics. Here’s an article by Caecilia Dance on cosmetics in the eighteenth century which suggests why Casanova’s advice was pretty shrewd: ‘Painted Faces’.
‘The Prologue’, and chapters 1 to 6 of ‘Casanova in Paris: The Shadows of the King’ are now freely available here.
6 long form articles on Casanova’s life and times are freely available here.
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