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Giovanni Boldini

Giovanni Boldini

1842 - 1931

Giovanni Boldini 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.

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. 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. In 1897 he had a solo exhibition in New York. He participated in the Venice Biennale in 1895, 1903, 1905, and 1912.

Boldini died in Paris on 11 January 1931. In a write up in The New York Times in January 1931, his career was summed up as follows:

Boldini was a fashionable portrait painter. He 'did' all the grandes dames of Paris, and at a certain period to have a portrait painted by Boldini was a crowning event of social season. His style was racy and advanced for his time, and he believed that his décolleté paintings touched the extreme limit of convention. His work was the talk of numerous salons. And then he was superseded by Vandongens and Etcheverrys and Domergues and others whose daring shocked and discouraged Boldini. He had not painted for many years before his death. His body was taken to Ferrara, his native city, for burial.

After his death, his work continued to be exhibited around the world. An exhibition of his work was held in 1938, seven years after his death, at the Newhouse Galleries in New York City.

Text courtesy of Wikipedia, 2023