Manon Balletti

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Portrait of Manon Balletti by Jean-Marc Nattier (1757), London, National Gallery

Manon Balletti (1740–1776) was the daughter of Italian actors performing in France and lover of the famous womanizer Giacomo Casanova. She was ten years old when she first met him; she happened to be the daughter of Silvia Balletti, an actress of the Comédie Italienne company and younger sister of Casanova's closest friend.

The lovers started their relationship when Casanova was thirty-two years old and Manon was seventeen. (Although Manon's mother was associated with acting, disreputable at the time, mother and daughter were observed by Casanova to be of a pure nature.) She wrote forty-two letters full of love and deep feelings for him; a well-known quote from these letters describes Casanova as: "My lover, my husband, my friend". Casanova's sexual passions caused him to be unfaithful, causing their three-year relationship to have numerous ups and downs. Yet she continued to share his home, found in Rue du Petit-Lion-St. Sauveur. Manon was at the time engaged to her clavichord teacher, but broke it off at Casanova's request, thus starting a new engagement with him. This did not keep him from having various sexual relations with other women, yet Manon remained faithful to him. His memoirs record his regret for being unkind to her when having these affairs.

Once Casanova was imprisoned after he was sued by creditors in Paris. Manon sent a pair of diamond earrings with which she bought him out. Subsequently she ended the engagement and returned his portrait and letters. Manon married the architect Jacques-François Blondel a short while after, disappointing Casanova's belief that he would one day be able to settle down with her.

Manon died at the age of 36, questionably from pulmonary hypertension. Casanova wrote in his memoirs that he believed his behavior shortened her life.

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References[edit]

  • (Epistolary, in Italian) A Giacomo Casanova. Lettere d'amore

Manon Balletti, Elisa von der Recke, 1997, Archinto, EAN: 9788877682116

  • Aldo Ravà (Epistolary, in Italian and french), Lettere di donne a G. Casanova, Milano, Fratelli Treves, 1912.
  • Giacomo Casanova Jacques Casanova de Seingalt - Histoire de ma vie. Texte intégral du manuscrit original, suivi de textes inédits. Édition présentée et établie par Francis Lacassin. (ISBN 2-221-06520-4). Ed. Robert Laffont. 1993. Vol. I p. 1085-1099, Manon Balletti, l'amour inaccessible (letters to Giacomo Casanova). Appendice p. 1099 L'acte de mariage de Manon Balletti Paris 29 juillet 1760.
  • L'intermédiaire des casanovistes, editor Helmut Watzlawick, Genève, n° XI, 39,40. XII, 56. XIII, 48, 52, 59. XV, 79. XVI, 35. XVII, 27. XX 27, 46, 64. XXVII 34.
  • Marco Leeflang, Manon rising star, L’intermédiaire des casanovistes, XXVII, Genève 2010, p.  34.