Boldini - La Belle Époque

Exhibitions | A day in Paris
giovanni_boldini_portrait_de_miss_bell par Esprit de France

The best part of the collections on show a the Petit Palais were put together end 19th/early 20th century. The current major exhibition is devoted to Giovanni Boldini, the Belle Époque artist by excellence. He was born in Ferrara Italy and rubbed shoulders with the Macchiaioli movement before coming to Paris in 1867, where he settled for good four years later, rapidly becoming the Parisian aristocracy and upper class's favourite portrait artist. The art dealer Goupil encouraged him in his early days to produce small formats of genre paintings depicting a happy and harmonious French society, putting the days of the Paris Commune far behind them. Paris was now the “City of Lights”, a paradigm of the modern-day capital with wide boulevards, electric streetlights and a lively night life. The big cafés, theatres, opera halls and horse-drawn carriages became the painter's favourite subjects as he immersed himself into the rhythm of this modern Paris. He quickly went on to paint bust or full-length portraits in a unique and masterful style. The large Pastel blanc representing Emiliana Concha de Ossa is characteristic of his new style, showing off the slim figure of the young woman and exaggeratingly stretching her arms and legs.

Boldini - La Belle ÉpoqueA trip to Holland where he saw Franz Hals's works inspired him to start using black, creating quite a violent contrast with the whites and silver tones he favoured. He produced a whole series of portraits elegantly and impetuously celebrating women. He exagerated slightly off-balance postures and lengthened bodies making them seem unreal yet magnetic simultaneously with a glowing light coming from the subject. Feu d’artifice exalts a woman whose satin dress is painted in bold strokes, which was racy and advanced for the time, though it did foreshadow the fascination the Italian futurists would have for speed and energy a few years later. Don't forget to have a good look at the Portrait of Robert de Montesquiou (the dandy of good taste who inspired Proust's Charlus character) as it is possible to compare it with Whistler's portrait of the same model, currently on show at the Musée d’Orsay. Which one do you prefer?

Chez Savy

The red mole skin sofas at Chez Savy await you close by after the tour. Open since 1923, the original settings with the polished tin bar and mosaic tile flooring are still intact. The perfect spot to enjoy quality classic French cuisine in peace. Excellent bistro dishes such as marrow bone on toast, slow-cooked shoulder of lamb, rice pudding and rum baba served by attentive waiters!

 

"Boldini, Pleasures and Days"
Until July 4, 2022
Petit Palais 



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