The ‘Portrait of Manon Balletti’, painted by the French artist Jean-Marc Nattier (1685-1766), is a portrait of Mlle Marie-Madeleine Balletti (1740-1776), commonly known as Manon Balletti, one of the numerous lovers of the world famous womanizer Giacomo Casanova (1725-1798). She was the daughter of the Italian actress Silvia Balletti, who was performing in France as an actress of the Comédie Italienne Company.
Manon Balletti first met Casanova when she was just 10 years old, and started a relationship with the 32-year-old Casanova when she was seventeen. Their three-year (1757-1760) relationship ended sadly because of his unfaithfulness and mounting debts that landed him in prison when creditors sued him. However, Manon sold of her diamond ear rings and brought him out. Later she married the French Neoclassicist architect Jacques-François Blondel (1705-1774).
Balletti died young at the age of 36, possibly because of pulmonary hypertension, and Casanova wrote in his famous autobiography ‘Histoire de ma vie’ (Story of My Life) that his behavior had shortened her life.