Art is divine

Worldly beauties

by Alessandra Cenna


Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art 

of Trento and Rovereto 





Giovane donna in déshabillé (La toilette), 1880 c.

olio su tela, 87 x 67 cm

Collezione privata

La treccia bionda, 1891 c.

olio su tela, 65,5 x 50,4 cm

Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Milano








The MART Museum in Rovereto is dedicating a magnificent and rich exhibition to Giovanni Boldini (1842-1931), famous Italian painter, a true tribute to women and to feminine elegance.


More than 150 works come from private and public collections and the majority belong to the heritage of the Boldini Museum in Ferrara, closed to the public after the earthquake of 2012.


His paintings will then be presented at the Petit Palais in Paris.

The exhibition is entitled "Il Piacere (Le Plaisir)" and reflects the essence of the Belle Époque, a world of beauty, seduction and sensuality. It also evokes the literary work of a great Italian poet and writer, Gabriele D'Annunzio: This contemporary of Boldini frequented the same social places with him and shared with the painter the same taste for his muses.

La contessa de Rasty coricata, 1880 c.

pastello su carta, 44,5 x 116,5 cm

Collezione privata. Courtesy Massimo Vecchia

The exhibition follows a chronological order and traces the life and work of Boldini, from his beginnings in Ferrara, through his collaboration with the Macchiaioli artists in Florence, to his departure for Paris and London. Boldini was then consecrated as a portrait painter loved and revered by the bourgeoisie and the international aristocracy.

His portraits of wealthy women, actresses, intellectuals, divas, encountered in the mundane places of Paris at the end of the century, have captured the spirit of a dynamic and sparkling society.


Unlike his father Antonio, a painter specializing in the reproduction of antiquity, Giovanni Boldini very quickly moved away from academic conceptions to focus on making more intimate portraits by immersing them in rich settings.


In 1867, Boldini first arrived in Paris to visit the Exposition Universelle. Conquered by the charm of this city redesigned by Baron Haussmann, he moved to Pigalle and signed a contract with the art dealer Adolphe Goupil for the sale and reproduction of his works. Boldini paints gallant scenes intended for a bourgeois clientele who are looking for works imbued with lightness.


His precious little canvases dress or undress women, as the journalist of his time Albert Flament rightly pointed out. Boldini's heroines are unapologetic and show off their charms with or without fabric.

 In 1886, Boldini transferred his studio to that of John Singer Sargent in the 17th arrondissement. He then devoted himself to his large canvases in oil or pastels.

La signora in rosa, 1916

olio su tela, 163 x 113 cm

Museo Giovanni Boldini, Ferrara

Ritratto di Madame Veil-Picard, 1896-1897

olio su tela, 198 x 100 cm

Collezione privata

Ritratto del piccolo Subercaseaux, 1891

olio su tela, 170 x 98,5 cm

Museo Giovanni Boldini, Ferrara

Miss Bell, 1903

olio su tela, 205 x 101 cm

Raccolte Frugone - Musei di Nervi, Genova







Always very attentive to the dictates of fashion, he was one of the most fashionable portrait painters in Paris at the beginning of the 20th century.


Boldini loves elegance and contemporary outfits made of accessories, rustling taffeta and lace. He skillfully represents vaporous dresses with fans and umbrellas.


Passionate about these femme fatales who play with their strengths and finery, he follows them at the end of the night, to the heart of nightlife in their coaches or to the Folies Bergères.


He also dedicates some of his most famous paintings to the French Dragons of the Versailles barracks.


Giovanni Boldini knew how to immortalize more than anything the beauty and the feminine coquetry. His figures, as irresistible as they are refined, remain unforgettable forever and retain all their appeal over the years.





until April 5, 2021.

MART Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto (Italy)


La marchesa Luisa Casati con piume di pavone, 1911-1913

olio su tela, 136 x 176 cm

Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Roma