Photo: 1910

Boldini's instantly recognizable high energy brush stokes and his unapologetic passion for feminine glamour and fantasy makes him a true original. (

"Last week with a better artist and in a better cause... Maud Dale revived the work of one of M. Bouguereau’s contemporaries, the late Giovanni Boldini.

Giovanni Boldini (“Zanin” to intimates) was a society portraitist as artificial as any who ever stretched a lady’s fingers to tickle her vanity. Modernists excuse Zanin Boldini for a virtue denied most Academicians, an exuberance, vivacity and frank sensuousness that won him the title of “Master of Swish,” and made his huge canvases on view last week a series of gay explosions, brilliantly painted.

Born in Ferrara in 1842, he grew up to be a little fellow (half an inch too short for military service), with a mincing manner and a domelike forehead. He abhorred Bohemianism, was always perfectly frank in his love of rich food, fine clothes, beautiful women. His career took him first to Florence, then London, then Paris. Ever since the Salon of 1875 his steady succession of portraits and mistresses had been gaining fame but it was not until the turn of the century that Boldini entered his Grand Period. He was preeminently the artist of the Edwardian era, of the pompadour, the champagne supper and the ribbon-trimmed chemise.

The passing of the petticoat was the passing of Boldini’s art. He lived to be 88. Too purblind to paint, he could still drink champagne and chuck pretty young models under the chin. In 1929, aged 86, he suddenly married. At his wedding breakfast he made a little speech: 'It is not my fault if I am so old, it’s something which has happened to me all at once.'”
From: “Master of Swish,” Time Magazine, April 3, 1933, p. 28-29
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Wendy Wauters


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