Movement: Realism, Impressionism, Genre, Portrait Painting
Giovanni Boldini's Famous Artworks
“Girl Reading in a Salon,” 1876
“Madame Charles Max,” 1896
“Spanish Dancer at the Moulin Rouge,” 1905
“Madame Pages in Evening Dress,” 1912
“Portrait of Donna Franca Florio,” 1924
Giovanni Boldini was a renowned portrait and landscape artist from Italy
. He is best known for his unique brushstrokes
often being called the ‘Master of Swish.’
Giovanni Boldini's Early Life
Giovanni Boldini was born in the Italian town of Ferrara in 1842. Antonio Boldini, Boldini’s father was a painter and restorer himself, and Boldini received his initial training in art from him in the style of the old Renaissance masters.
In 1862 at the age of 20, Boldini accepted a position at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence. Although Boldini rarely attended any formal lessons it was in Florence that he met a group of Tuscan realist painters called Macchiaioli. From the group, Boldini developed close friendships with Christiano Banti and Telemaco Signorini. Both these figures are said to have had a great influence on Boldini’s style of painting as they introduced him to painting in response to nature, not unlike the Barbizon school of painting from France.
Giovanni Boldini's Rise to Prominence
In 1869 Boldini traveled to London. His bold strokes and immense talent as a portraitist was much appreciated during the trip and Boldini obtained various commissions. Boldini’s portraits proved to be very popular in London and Boldini resided in the city on and off over the next five years.
Boldini visited Paris
for the first time in 1867 and was enthralled by what he saw as the ‘Cultural Capital of Europe’. During this visit, he was taken with the works of Manet, Courbet, and Degas, artists who in the future Boldini would establish friendships with. In 1871, Boldini moved to Paris permanently setting up his studio at Pigalle. The last quarter of the 19th century saw Boldini rise as a respected portraitist in Paris. His subjects ranged from the Parisian lifestyle to landscapes and portraits. From 1886, the famous Italian romantic composer Giuseppe Verdi commissioned Boldini to do various paintings; this introduced the artist to the world of opera, leading to numerous paintings of opera enthusiasts.
Boldini’s brushwork was fluid yet bold. His paintings, even the portraits do not have a stagnant quality but seem to move. These unique qualities led Boldini to have a long, successful and illustrious career.
Giovanni Boldini's Muse
Around the 1880’s Boldini’s love interest Marthe de Florian, a French actress, also became a major subject of his paintings. In 2010, an old apartment of the actress was cleaned out after 70 years of disuse and among the artifacts found in the apartment was a painting of De Florian done in1888 by Boldini. A biographical reference and love note found with the painting confirmed its authenticity.
Giovanni Boldini's Marriage and Death
Boldini had remained a bachelor all his life but then in 1929, at the ripe old age of 86, he married for the first time. This marriage turned out to be short-lived as Boldini died after contracting pneumonia in 1931, while still living in Paris. Boldini was buried in his hometown of Ferrara. You can buy Giovanni Boldini's artworks online
Giovanni Boldini's Exhibitions
1874 - Salon de Paris
1875 - Salon de Paris
1889 - Exposition Internationale, Paris
1895 - Venice Biennale
1963 - Casa Romei, Ferrara
1999 - Bottegantica Gallery, Bologna
2005 - Palazzo Zabarella, Rome
2009 - Palazzo Diamanti, Ferrara
2013 - Palazzo Pitti, Florence
Giovanni Boldini's Museums/Collections
Musée du Louvre, Paris
Musée d’Orsay, Paris
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux
Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin
Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Rome
Gallerie di Palazzo Leoni Montanari, Vicenza
Museo Fattori, Livorno
Palazzo Montecitorio, Rome
National Gallery, London
Art Institute of Chicago
Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires
“Giovanni Boldini: Masterpieces in Colour,” by Jessica Findley
“Giovanni Boldini in Impressionist Paris,” by Sarah Lees and Richard Kendall
“Giovanni Boldini,” by Maria Tsaneva
“Giovanni Boldini,” by Nancy Davis
“Giovanni Boldini: 80 Drawings,” by Narim Bender