Giovanni Boldini, the Master of Swish
January 27, 2006 12:04 PM   Subscribe

In 1872, influenced by the Impressionists at the Exposition Universelle, Italian painter Giovanni Boldini permanently settled in Paris. There, he quickly developed a reputation for his elegant depictions of fashionable society women executed with bold, fluid brushstrokes that made the model appear to be thrown onto the canvas -- the "Master of Swish". By the turn of the century Boldini had become the most sought after portrait painter of the 'La Belle Epoque'. More inside.
posted by matteo (9 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Boldini had perfected a "whiplash" style by which the model appeared to be thrown onto the canvas... All his nervous energy... was thrown at the canvas."
(Kenneth McConkey, Edwardian Portraits, London, 1987, p.36).

among Boldini's most famous portraits: his friend John Singer Sargent, and the sad-eyed Cigno di Busseto, Giuseppe Verdi

posted by matteo at 12:07 PM on January 27, 2006

matteo, this is a great post, but I have to say its effect on my was mostly to enhance my appreciation for John Singer Sargent's work. Boldini's work seems somehow coarser, more swayed by prevailing trends in popular illustration, and he also has something odd going on with his representation of hands-- they're oddly thin and clawlike, beyond what might be callled for within his style.
posted by jokeefe at 12:35 PM on January 27, 2006

^^ effect on me, rather.

Also, callled should be called. Oy.
posted by jokeefe at 12:37 PM on January 27, 2006

I mean, this portrait has a fantastic energy to it, achieved by composition, not by overstatement.
posted by jokeefe at 12:42 PM on January 27, 2006

Good post. I wasn't aware of those messier expressionistic works at all...very interesting. Only knew him for the glossy society women which were a bit empty. He can really paint fabric though.
posted by fire&wings at 12:59 PM on January 27, 2006

Great post, never heard of Boldini or Sargent but it's all very lovely!
posted by like_neon at 1:38 PM on January 27, 2006

What jokeefe said: Not being Boldini is a measure of Sargent's greatness. There is a point where the "Master of Swish" come perliously close to being the "Master of Kitsch."
posted by Faze at 1:49 PM on January 27, 2006

Wonderful stuff!
posted by qwip at 4:41 PM on January 27, 2006

im quite drawn to this and this.
Otherwise theres a LOT of dresses going on , its like he couldnt be bothered getting a true empathy with the person so he went for the dress as movement thing , i cant put it into words really.
Forever upstaged by a dress , what a way to be remembered.
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:46 PM on January 27, 2006

« Older 'Cause The Bible Told Me So   |   Looks like a garlic clove to me. Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments