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Giovanni Boldini and the myth of the Parisian woman


The exhibition Les Plaisirs et les Jours (Pleasures and Days) on the work of Giovanni Boldini (1842-1931), known as the "Painter of Women", at the Petit Palais in Paris is worth a visit! Between movement and melancholy, the Italian painter contributes to the creation of the myth of the Parisian woman of the 20th century. His elongated forms, fluid strokes and dynamic compositions distinguish him from the avant-garde painters of the same period, (fauvism, expressionism, cubism...) while keeping a modern incursion.


Portraits intimes et officiels


Born in Ferrara near Bologna to an artist father, Giovanni Boldini's style gradually broke away from the academicism imposed on Italian artists. From 1870, he became associated with powerful British patrons like Sir William Cornwallis-West and Isabella

Robinson Falconer. Visiting London and then France, he made his first social successes there, painting portraits of high-ranking women (the Duchess of Westminster, the Countess of Listowel, Lady Bechis etc.).


Between 1870-1880, G. Boldini moved to Paris. During these years he affirmed his style, returning to his favorite field: the portrait. Inspired by the Flemish and Spanish painters of the 17th century (El Greco, Anthony Van Dyck, Diego Velasquez) while confronting the innovative artists of the time (Edgar Degas, John S. Sargent). The Italian artist offers us works with worked chromaticism, a quick and loose touch and elongated figures that sometimes evoke Ingres' female portraits.


Le peintre de la Belle Époque

During this period, the artist became part of the world he depicted, just like Marcel Proust. An end of century society where individualism prevailed and women tried to distinguish themselves through fashion. The artist befriended the caricaturist Georges Goursat known as "Sem" and Paul César Helleu, and together they frequented cafés, Parisian gardens, the races at Longchamp... Sem contributed to the artist's notoriety by drawing numerous caricatures of him with his slender models.


G. Boldini's studio, is visited by the Parisian high society, but also rich Europeans, Russians and American aristocrats, actresses, dancers and writers. Being a true painter of his time, Boldini's portraits dictates fashion and inspires the myth of the Parisian woman, while at the same time portraying the decadence and vanity of the period.


Boldini, Les plaisirs et les jours at the Petit Palais in Paris, until July 24th









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