Giovanni Boldini

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Giovanni Boldini
Giovanni Boldini.jpg
Photographic portrait of Giovanni Boldini (1910)
Born(1842-12-31)31 December 1842
Died11 July 1931(1931-07-11) (aged 88)
EducationAcademy of Fine Arts of Florence
Known forPainting
AwardsLegion of Honour
Patron(s)Diego Martelli, Goupil & Cie
Self-portrait at Montorsoli, (1892), Florence, Uffizi Gallery, Vasari Corridor

Giovanni Boldini (31 December 1842 – 11 July 1931) was an Italian genre and portrait painter who lived and worked in Paris for most of his career. According to a 1933 article in Time magazine, he was known as the "Master of Swish" because of his flowing style of painting.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Boldini was born in Ferrara, the son of a painter of religious subjects, and in 1862 went to Florence for six years to study and pursue painting. He only infrequently attended classes at the Academy of Fine Arts, but in Florence, met other realist painters known as the Macchiaioli, who were Italian precursors to Impressionism. Their influence is seen in Boldini's landscapes which show his spontaneous response to nature, although it is for his portraits that he became best known.

Moving to London, Boldini attained success as a portraitist. He completed portraits of premier members of society including Lady Holland and the Duchess of Westminster.[2] From 1872 he lived in Paris, where he became a friend of Edgar Degas. He became the most fashionable portrait painter in Paris in the late 19th century, with a dashing style of painting which shows some Macchiaioli influence and a brio reminiscent of the work of younger artists, such as John Singer Sargent and Paul Helleu. He was nominated commissioner of the Italian section of the Paris Exposition in 1889, and received the Légion d'honneur for this appointment.[3]

In 1897 he had a solo exhibition in New York.[3] He participated in the Venice Biennale in 1895, 1903, 1905, and 1912.[3] He died in Paris on 11 July 1931.


Giovanni Boldini is a character in the ballet Franca Florio, regina di Palermo, written in 2007 by the Italian composer Lorenzo Ferrero, which depicts the story of Donna Franca, a famous Sicilian aristocrat whose exceptional beauty inspired him and many other artists, musicians, poets and emperors during the Belle Époque.

A Boldini portrait of his former muse Marthe de Florian, a French actress, was discovered in a Paris flat in late 2010, hidden away from view on the premises that were unvisited for over 50 years. The portrait has never been listed, exhibited or published and the flat belonged to de Florian's granddaughter, who inherited the flat after her father's death in 1966 and lived in the South of France after the outbreak of the Second World War and never returned to Paris.[4][5] A love-note and a biographical reference to the work painted in 1888, when the actress was 24, cemented its authenticity. A full-length portrait of the lady in the same clothing and accessories, but less provocative, hangs in the New Orleans Museum of Art.

The discovery of his painting in the 70-years-empty apartment forms the background to Michelle Gable's 2014 novel A Paris Apartment.[6]


Year Title Image Collection Comments
1865 Self-Portrait, oil on canvas view Galleria d'Arte Moderna in Palazzo Pitti, Florence Subject: Giuseppe Boldini
1873 The Model and the Mannequin, oil on panel Boldini, Model and Manequin.jpg Private
1873 The Guitar Player, oil on canvas Boldini, The Guitar Player.jpg Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute at Williamstown, United States
1873 Gossip, oil on wood Gossip MET DT219388.jpg Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
1875 Ladies of the First Empire view Vanderbilt collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art
1875 A Lute Player and a Listener, oil on canvas Giovanni Boldini - A Lute Player and a Listener.jpg Private
1878 Lady admiring a Fan Boldini, Lady admiring Fan.jpg Butterfly Institute Fine Art (Gallery), Lugano
1878 Newspaperman in Paris (The newspaper) Boldini, Newspaperman.jpg
1879 The Dispatch-Bearer (c. 1879), oil on wood The Dispatch-Bearer MET DP223662.jpg Metropolitan Museum of Art
1884 The Worldly Singer (La cantante mondana) Boldini, The Mondona Singer.jpg Museo Boldini, Ferrara [1]
ca 1885 The Actress Rejane and her Dog, oil on canvas Boldini, The Actress Rejane and her Dog.jpg Private Subject:Gabrielle Réjane (1856–1920; French actress)
1885 The Girl with a Black Cat Boldini, The Girl with a Black Cat.jpg
1885 Portrait of Mrs. Charles Warren-Cram, oil on canvas Mrs. Charles Warren-Cram (Ella Brooks Carter, 1846–1896) MET EP1482.jpg Metropolitan Museum of Art Subject: Ella Brooks Carter (1846–1896)
1881–86 Two White Horses Boldini, Two White Horses.jpg
1886 Portrait of Giuseppe Verdi Giuseppe Verdi by Giovanni Boldini.jpg National Gallery of Modern Art, Rome Subject: Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901)
1888 Woman in Black who Watches the Pastel of Signora Emiliana Concha de Ossa, oil on canvas Boldini, Woman in Black.jpg Museo Boldini, Ferrara [2]
1890 Portrait of John Singer Sargent (c. 1890), oil on panel Giovanni Boldini (1842-1931) -John Singer Sargent(Standing).jpg Subject: John Singer Sargent (1856–1925; American artist and portrait painter)
1890 Portrait of John Singer Sargent (c. 1890), oil on panel Giovanni Boldini (1842-1931) - A Portrait of John Singer Sargent.jpg Subject: John Singer Sargent (1856–1925; American artist and portrait painter)
1892 Portrait of Josefina Errázuriz Alvear, oil on canvas Giovanni Bodini - Portrait of Giovinetta Errazuriz.jpg Private Josefina Errázuriz Alvear
1892 Portrait of Madame Josefina Alvear de Errázuriz, oil on canvas view Private Subject: Josefina Alvear de Errázuriz
1892 Self-Portrait view Subject: Giuseppe Boldini
1892 Portrait de Madame E Portrait de Mme E.png National Museum of Decorative Arts Buenos Aires Subject: Madame E
1894 Portrait of the Countess de Martel de Janville, known as Gypsy, oil on canvas Boldini, Countess de Janville..jpg Musée de la Ville de Paris, Musée Carnavalet, Paris Subject: Countess de Martel de Janville (1850–1932)
1895 Portrait of a Man Wearing a Top Hat: Poet Hanvin, from the Figaro, oil on panel Giovanni boldini - retrato de homem com cartola (o poeta hanvin, o homem do figaro) 01.jpg
1897 Portrait of Lady Colin Campbell, oil on canvas view National Portrait Gallery, London Subject: Gertrude Elizabeth Blood (1857–1911)
1897 Portrait of J. A. M. Whistler, oil on canvas view Brooklyn Museum, New York Subject: James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903)
1897 Portrait of Robert de Montesquiou Montesquiou, Robert de - Boldini.jpg Subject: Robert de Montesquiou (1855–1921; Gay French poet and writer)
1898 Portrait of Georges Madame Hugo, and her son Jean, oil on canvas view Private Subject: Jeanne Hugo and her son, Charles Daudet
1900 Portrait of a Man in a Church, watercolor Boldini, Man in church.jpg Private
1900–1910 Portrait of Marthe de Florian[7] Boldini Marthe de Florian.jpg Private Rediscovered in 2010
1901 Portrait of Mme. Lina Cavalieri, oil on canvas Boldini (Lina Cavalieri).jpg Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois Subject: Lina Cavalieri (1874–1944); Italian operatic soprano and diseuse
1903 Portrait of a Lady, Mrs. Lionel Phillips Boldini - Florence, Lady Phillips.jpg Subject: Dorothea Sarah Florence Alexandra (1863–1940)
1904 Portrait of Sarah Bernhardt Bernhardt, Sarah di Giovanni Boldini.jpg Subject: Sarah Bernhardt (1844–923; French stage and film actress)
1904 Princess Radziwill with Red Ribbon Boldini. Princess Radziwill.jpg Subject: Polish princess Radziwill
1905 Portrait of Elizabeth Wharton Drexel, oil on canvas Subject: Elizabeth Wharton Drexel (1868–1944; American author and Manhattan socialite)
1905 The Black Sash, oil on canvas view Private
1905 Portrait of Countess Zichy, oil on canvas view Subject: Countess Zichy
1906 Portrait of Ethel Mary Crocker view Subject: lived 1891–1964; daughter of Mrs. William H. Crocker; later Countess de Limur.
1906 Portrait of Mrs. Howard-Johnston, oil on canvas view Private Subject: Howard-Johnston
1906 Consuelo Vanderbilt, Duchess of Marlborough, and Her Son, Lord Ivor Spencer-Churchill, oil on canvas view Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City Subjects: Consuelo Vanderbilt (1876–1964). Lord Ivor Spencer-Churchill (1898–1956).
1908 Portrait of Marchesa Luisa Casati, with a Greyhound, oil Giovanni Boldini (1842-1931), La Marchesa Luisa Casati (1881-1957) con un levriero.jpg Subject: Luisa Casati (1881–1957; Italian heiress and patroness of arts)
1910 Portrait of Anita De La Feria, The Spanish Dancer, oil on canvas Boldini, Anita de la Ferie.jpg Private Subject: Anita de la Ferie
1910–1914 Canale a Venezia con gondole Artgate Fondazione Cariplo - Boldini Giovanni, Canale a Venezia con gondole.jpg Art collections of Fondazione Cariplo Venice
1911 Portrait of Princess Marthe Bibesco, oil on canvas Marthe Bibesco Boldini.jpg Subject: Marthe Bibesco (1886–1973)
1911 Portrait of Rita de Acosta Lydig, oil on canvas Portrait of Rita de Acosta Lydig by Giovanni Boldini.jpg M.S. Rau Antiques, New Orleans Subject: Rita de Acosta Lydig (1875–1929)
1911 Self-Portrait Giovanni boldini, autoritratto a 69 anni, 1911.jpg Museo Boldini, Ferrara Subject: Giuseppe Boldini
1912 Portrait of Mlle. de Gillespie, La Dame de Biarritz, oil on canvas view Private
1912 Portrait of a Lady Brooklyn Museum - Portrait of a Lady - Giovanni Boldini.jpg Brooklyn Museum
1913 Portrait of a Lady, Lina Bilitis, with two Pekineses, oil on canvas Boldini, Lina Bilitis with two pekineses.jpg Private Subject: Lina Bilitis
1913 Madame Michelham Boldini - Madame Michelham.jpg N.A. Subject: Madame Michelham
1914 Portrait of the Marchesa Luisa Casati Giovanni Boldini - La marchesa Luisa Casati con penne di pavone (Portrait of the Marquise).jpg Subject: Luisa Casati (1881–1957; Italian heiress and patroness of arts)
1924 Portrait of Donna Franca Florio, oil on canvas Boldini - Franca Florio.jpg
Des Parisiennes Vanderbilt collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
Interior of the artist's studio with the portrait of Giovinetta Errazuriz view Subject: Giovinetta Errazuriz
Kitchen Garden
La Passeggiata al Bois
Place Pigalle
Portrait of a Dandy Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec by Giovanni Boldini.jpg
Portrait of Francesco Boldini view Subject: Little brother of Giovanni Boldini, Francesco
Portrait of the young Subercaseuse
Portrait of Willy, the Writer Henri Gauthier-Villars Boldini - Henri Gauthier Villars.jpg
Repose in the Atelier
Studies for the Portrait of Marchesa Luisa Casati Subject: Luisa Casati (1881–1957; Italian heiress and patroness of arts)
The Art Connoisseur, oil on panel view Private
The Misses Muriel and Consuelo Vanderbilt
Reclining Nude, oil on canvas view Private
Room of the Painter view
A Lady with a Cat, watercolor Boldini, Lady with a Cat.jpg Private
Lady in Rose, oil on canvas Boldini, Lady in Rose.jpg Museo Boldini, Ferrara [3]
Boy with a Circle, oil on canvas Boldini, Boy with a circle.jpg
Girl with Red Shawl Boldini, Girl with Red Shawl.jpg
Gentleman at the Piano Boldini, Gentleman at the Piano.jpg
Woman at the Piano, oil on canvas Boldini, Woman at Piano.jpg Private
Lady Pianist, watercolor Boldini, Lady Pianist.jpg Private
Theatre Boldini, Theatre.jpg
Woman in Red Boldini, Woman in Red.jpg
The Pianist A. Rey Colaco Boldini, Pianist Colaco.jpg Subject: Alexandre Rey Colaço (1854–1928; Portuguese pianist)
The Rose in Vase of Sassonia Boldini, Rose in Vase.jpg
Still Life with Rose Boldini, Still Life with Rose.jpg
Sitting in the Garden Boldini, Sitting in the Garden.jpg
Statue in the Park of Versailles Boldini, Statue in the Park of Versaille.jpg
Angels Boldini, Angels.jpg

Prints and drawings[edit]

Year Title Image Collection Comments
1883 Famous Connoisseur (Fameux Connaisseur), crayon and pencil on graph paper Famous Connoisseur (Fameux Connaisseur) MET DT353872.jpg Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
1884 Portrait of the Artist, pen and brown ink view Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
1885 Audience at a Parisian Theatre I (c. 1885), Graphite on cream wove paper Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
1885 Audience at a Parisian Theatre II (c. 1885), Graphite on cream wove paper Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
1897 Hansom Cabs, New York (c. 1897), black chalk on ruled paper view Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
1897 Whistler Dozing, drypoint on paper view Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
1904 Portrait of the Marquis de Biron (c. 1904), black chalk view Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
1905 Portrait of a Lady (c. 1905), crayon on paper view Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
Portrait of Edward G. Kennedy, black graphite view Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City Subject: lived 1849–1932.
Leda with Swan Boldini, Leda with Swan.jpg Subject: Leda
Sarah Bernhardt, sketch, pencil on paper Boldini, Sarah Bernhardt.jpg Private Subject: Sarah Bernhardt (1844–1923; French actress)
Face of woman, sketch, pencil on paper
Face of woman, sketch, pencil on paper


  1. ^ "Art: Master of Swish". 3 April 1933.
  2. ^ de Gubernatis, Angelo (1889). Dizionario degli Artisti Italiani Viventi: pittori, scultori, e Architetti. Tipe dei Successori Le Monnier. p. 63.
  3. ^ a b c Steingräber, E., & Matteucci, G. (1984). The Macchiaioli: Tuscan Painters of the Sunlight : March 14-April 20, 1984. New York: Stair Sainty Matthiesen in association with Matthiesen, London. p. 105. OCLC 70337478.
  4. ^ John Hall (16 May 2013). "Revealed: Eerie new images show forgotten French apartment that was". The Independent.
  5. ^ Samuel, Henry (4 Oct 2010). "Parisian flat containing €2.1 million painting lay untouched for 70 years". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 6 October 2010.
  6. ^ Wilkens, John (7 February 2016). "Novelist writes what she doesn't know". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 3 August 2016.
  7. ^


  • T. Panconi, Boldini, L'uomo e la pittura, Pisa (Italy) 1998
  • E. Savoia (a cura di), Giovanni Boldini. Il dinamismo straordinario delle linee, (catalogo della mostra), Bologna (Italy) 1999
  • E. Savoia (a cura di), Omaggio a Giovanni Boldini, (catalogo della mostra), Bologna (Italy) 2001
  • T. Panconi, Giovanni Boldini, L'opera completa (Catalogo generale ragionato legale), Firenze (Italy) 2002
  • P. Dini e F. Dini, Giovanni Boldini 1842-1931. Catalogo ragionato, Torino, 2002
  • E. Savoia (a cura di), G. Boldini. Dalla macchia alla sperimentazione dinamica, (catalogo della mostra), Bologna (Italy) 2003
  • T. Panconi, Boldini Mon Amour (catalogo della mostra, con presentazione del ministro per i beni culturali), Pisa (Italy) 2008
  • E. Savoia (a cura di), Giovanni Boldini. Capolavori e opere inedite dall'atelier dell'artista, (catalogo della mostra), Milano (Italy) 2011
  • S. Bosi, E. Savoia, Giovanni Boldini. Il Narratore della "dolce vita" parigina, Treviso, Antiga Edizioni, 2011
  • T. Panconi, S. Gaddi, Boldini e la Belle Epoque (catalogo della mostra), Milano (Italy) 2011
  • S. Bosi, E. Savoia, La mostra di Giovanni Boldini del 1963 al Musée Jacquemart-André di Parigi da un album fotografico inedito, Milano (Italy) 2011
  • Boldini, Giovanni, Enzo Savoia, and Stefano Bosi. Giovanni Boldini. Capolavori e opere inedite dall'atelier dell'artista. Crocetta del Montello: Antiga. 2011. ISBN 9788888997520
  • T. Panconi, S. Gaddi, Giovanni Boldini (catalogo della mostra di Roma - Venaria Reale To), Skira editore, Milano, 2017

External links[edit]