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Nudo femminile

Nudo femminile
signed ‘Boldini’ (lower right)
oil on panel
10 5⁄8 x 13¾ in. (27 x 34.9 cm.)
with Galleria Bonaparte, Milan, where purchased by
Private Collection, and by descent to the present owners.
C. & G. Pischel, Pittura europea dell'800, Milan, 1945, p. 365.
P. Dini & F. Dini, Giovanni Boldini, catalogo ragionato, Turin, 2004, vol. III, p. 589, no. 1154, illustrated.

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Lot Essay

Giovanni Boldini moved from London to Paris in 1871. It was in the Ville Lumière that the artist reached the peak of his creativity and success, becoming one of the leading figures of the artistic community. Boldini gravitated around artists such as Edgar Degas, Paul-César Helleu, John Singer Sargent and James McNeill Whistler. His first entry to the Paris Salon was in 1874 and thereafter he was a frequent contributor, even acting as chairman of the Italian section of the 1889 Exposition Universelle. He was made a member of the Société Nationale des Artistes Français in 1879 and was awarded a Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur ten years later. He ultimately rented Sargent's house and studio at 41 Boulevard Berthier where he spent the rest of his life.

It was in the 1880s that the artist started to experiment with a dynamism which characterises his later works. In the present lot he uses a near-monochrome palette, which increases the candour of the model’s body. Boldini applies the paint with energetic flourishes, never losing sight of the model's body, which is subtly defined by the tonal gradations of whites and pinks that build up volume in the figure. The ethereal figure of the model seems to emerge from her surroundings in a great dynamism of quick brushstrokes, which seem to anticipate the freedom and modernity of the artist’s style at the turn of the century.

Elegant ladies had always figured prominently in Boldini’s oeuvre: the artist was particularly sensitive to the portrayal of the female form. Depicting the nude female body was a constant source of inspiration for the artist. His sitters were noted for their relaxed poses as if they were unaware of the presence of the artist. The theme was certainly developed thanks to a series of works in which the artist depicted his lover, the beautiful Gabrielle de Rasty.

In addition to the literature mentioned this painting was separately appraised by Enrico Piceni (1972) Enrico Somare (1942) and Antonio Sianesi (1942). Antonio Sianesi recalls the painting in Boldini's studio.

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