Giovanni Boldini (1842-1931)
Born in Ferrara, Italy on 31st December 1842, Boldini received his initial training from his father, a painter and restorer. A precocious talent, Boldini attended the Accademia di Belle Arti (Academy of Fine Arts) in Florence in 1862. There he met the circle of Tuscan realist painters, known as the Macchiaioli, developing a particularly close friendship with Telemaco Signorini and Christiano Banti. They were a considerable influence on Boldini and introduced him to painting from nature, contemporaneous with the Barbizon painters of France.
During a visit to Paris for the Exposition Universelle in 1867, Boldini was greatly influenced by the paintings of Courbet, Manet and Degas, artists with whom he later established lifelong friendships. While in Paris, Boldini was captivated by what he considered to be the cultural capital of Europe and moved there permanently in October 1871, settling in the Place Pigalle. During this period he painted a series of small-scale works of eighteenth-century and Empire scenes, commissioned by Adolphe Goupil and other Parisian dealers, but also concentrated on scenes of Parisian life and pictures of elegantly dressed women, many of which were also sold by Goupil. Boldini was accepted as one of the foremost portrait painters of the Belle Epoque in Paris during the 1890s. His unique style set him apart from his contemporaries. "Though he remained essentially Paris-based, Boldini occasionally made trips to London to paint some of Sargent’s sitters… Boldini had perfected a ‘whiplash’ style by which the model appeared to be thrown onto the canvas… All his nervous energy… was thrown at the canvas." (Kenneth McConkey, Edwardian Portraits, London, 1987, p.36).
Boldini died in Paris on 12th January 1931.