Seated Lady in a Red Cape

by Giovanni Boldini

P.O.A.

DIMENSIONS: (unframed) 8.0 x 5.0 in./ 20.32 x 12.70 cm
SIGNATURE: Signed lower right
MEDIUM: Watercolour and bodycolour

This work is accompanied with a certificate from Francesca Dini, Scheda Dini Number 002636.

Catalogue No: 3519 Categories: ,

In this refined portrait the Italian Master, Giovanni Boldini, depicts a young woman seated outdoors in a Parisian café. She is dressed in a vibrant red cape that has been tied across her chest, under which we can see the pearl-grey walking garments that were fashionable at the time. The documentary and relaxed style of the portrait suggest that Boldini met this model in an informal setting, capturing her features with ease, likely seated by her in the café itself.

The sitter bears a strong resemblance to Marthe de Florian, a French actress who is the subject of Boldini’s Giovane Signora con bouquet di Lilla which hangs in the Musée d’Orsay, Paris.  Similarly to the oil painting, Boldini has shortened this portrait from the bottom to the top, to make it appear as natural as possible. Although often speculated this is a depiction of Marthe, it is unconfirmed, which arguably was Boldini’s intention. Rather than depicting one character Boldini has created a beautifully mellow portrait that represents a typical Parisian woman of the time: she is full of elegance and grace, whilst basking in the Parisian sunshine outside one of its many cafés.

Provenance

Private Collection, United States;
Private Collection, United Kingdom

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Biography

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 such as Young Woman Writing that were popular with his Parisian clientele.

 

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