1842-1931 | Italian
Lady in a White Dress
Signed “Boldini” (lower right)
Watercolor on cardboard
This exceptional watercolor was composed by the great Giovanni Boldini, one of the most important portrait painters of his age. The charming work captures a young French woman in a dress and hat from the 18th century, quite possibly his lover Berthe, whom he painted in numerous works from this period. With its fast impulsive brushstrokes, the watercolor is typical of his tendency to depict the comings and goings of French society. That he chose to paint his subject in 18th-century dress is indicative of the fashions of his time; such scenes were highly popular among the affluent, who preferred subjects that harkened back to an earlier age of lightness and grace. Yet, Boldini also chose a subdued color palette, which infuses the work with a distinctive modernity.
As a whole, it is a significant early example of his work in Paris, where he moved in 1871 and became an artist of the Maison Goupil, a leading art dealership. Through the maison, Boldini became acquainted with a group of painters who would significantly influence his style, and his work became filled with a Rococo-style flair, brisk brushwork, and an overall sense of charm. The present piece exemplifies his work of the period, particularly his distinctive talent for fast, gestural brushwork.
Eventually, Boldini was counted among the most highly sought after modern portraitists in Europe and America. His exuberant, bold style was particularly desirable among his increasingly fashion-conscious clientele, who admired Boldini’s simultaneously traditional and modern compositions. Indeed, Boldini’s oeuvre displays both his knowledge of the more traditional British portrait genre painters such as Sir Anthony van Dyck and Sir Thomas Gainsborough, along with the more modern Impressionists and Italian painters known as the Macchiaioli. Once dubbed the "Master of Swish" by Time magazine for his flowing style, Boldini is regarded among the best of his genre, and today his works can be seen in important museum collections such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, Musée D’Orsay, Art Institute of Chicago, National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome and Palazzo Pitti in Florence.
This rare work is accompanied by a letter of authenticity signed by Boldini expert Francesca Dini.
Cardboard: 9 7/8" high x 6 5/8" wide
Frame: 22 1/2" high x 20 1/8" wide