Monday, June 9, 2014

Giovanni Boldini

Lina Cavalieri
oil on canvas
size unknown
private collection

Natalina "Lina" Cavalieri (1874-1944) was an Italian opera soprano singer, actress, and monologist.

Giovanni Boldini (1842-1931) was an Italian genre and portrait painter who enjoyed a long and successful artistic career.
He was born in Ferrara as the son of a painter of religious subjects. He went to Florence at the age of 20 to study painting, meeting there the realist painters.
He attained great success in London as a portraitist.
From 1872 he lived in Paris, where he became a friend of Edgar Degas. He also became the most fashionable portrait painter in Paris in the late 19th century. He developed his own, distinct style, and his portraits grew in fame, helped greatly by a portrait commissioned by Giuseppe Verdi in 1886, the biggest celebrity of his day. Verdi gave him an introduction into the world of opera, which led to many commissions for portraits, and to many intimate paintings of opera fans in theatres and cafes around Europe.

He also painted landscapes in the naturalistic style of his day, and worked on engravings, with pastels, watercolors and etchings. Only toward the end of his long life, did his style change, becoming more impressionistic (possibly due to his failing eyesight), using mainly dark, rich colors.

He was nominated commissioner of the Italian section of the Paris Exposition in 1889, and received the Legion d'honneur for this appointment. He died of pneumonia while in Paris, and is buried in his hometown of Ferrara, Italy.