Portrait of a Woman, C.1888

by Giovanni Boldini


DIMENSIONS: (unframed)8.0 x 6.0 inches (20.3 x 15.2 cm)
SIGNATURE: Signed (lower right)
MEDIUM: Watercolour



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    Catalogue No: 5336 Categories: ,

    The beautiful watercolour showing a young lady in eighteenth century dress stopping to curtsey to an acquaintance, whilst resting upon her closed parasol is an original work by Giovanni Boldini (1842- 1931).

    This piece is from Boldini’s extensive artistic period working alongside the Macchiaoli, and was produced after a brief trip to London when Boldini’s portraits were very much focused on the English aristocracy. Due to his shorter stature, Boldini was given the name “little Italian” by the British.


    Private Collection, United States;

    Private Collection, United Kingdom

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    Giovanni Boldini was born in Ferrara, Italy in 1845, the eighth of thirteen children. He moved to Florence in 1862-65, where he came into contact with members of the Barbizon school and the Macchiaioli – a group of artists opposed to the strict teachings of the Accademia. The Macchiaioli worked to emphasise painterly immediacy and freshness, notions that were also tied to the French Impressionists. A great influence upon Boldini’s work was his friendship with the influential thinker and art critic Diego Martelli who, himself, would help mould and champion the ideas of Impressionism in Italy.


    From the beginning of his career Boldini displayed a remarkable talent as a portrait painter, and during a trip to London in 1869 was able to obtain numerous commissions. He would carry this forward, residing in London on-and-off for the next five years. Boldini also produced landscape paintings, including a series of frescoes at the Villa ‘La Falconiera’, near Pistoia in 1870.


    No matter his skill for landscapes his talent and love was clearly for portraiture. In 1872 he settled in Paris at the age of 30, taking a studio on the Place Pigalle. Beginning in 1874 he exhibited frequently at the annual Salons and quickly rose to prominence in Parisian art circles. He enjoyed an exclusive contract with the eminent art  dealer Adolphe Goupil, and produced for him small, brightly coloured, 18th century costume pieces.

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