"Once time has established values in their correct order, Boldini will be recognized as the greatest painter of the last century. The New school (of painting) derives from him, as he was the first to simplify lines and planes" - Gertrude Stein (V. Doria, Il Genio di Boldini, Bologna, n.d., p. 120).
La Belle Epoque characterized a period of profound cultural and social change, a time when the Parisian salons of the elite, such as those of the Countess de Rasty, and the Countess Greffulhe, were filled not only with aristocrats but increasingly with the artists, dancers, musicians and coquettes of the demi-monde. If Marcel Proust and Emile Zola caught this twilight world in words, Boldini captured it in paint. To quote Bernard Berenson: "An expert on 'society', Boldini perfectly captured the female elegance of this era. The compelling enchantment of his portraits reveal not only the sure, impulsive qualities of the painter, but also a certain satirical bite" (Berenson, Giorni d'autunno in Romagna, Pellegrinaggi d'Arte, 1958).
Boldini's bravura paint technique combined with the influence of 'Grand Manner' portraiture, set him against conservative studio artists such as Eugène Amaury-Duval and Léon Bonnat. His flamboyant style was quickly appreciated by an increasingly fashion-conscious society, not only in France, but throughout Europe. The portraits of Verdi, Montesquieu, Whistler, Consuelo Vanderbilt, the Duchess of Marlborough and the Marchesa Casati confirm his position as the supreme portraitist of the Belle Epoque.