The son of a modest painter, in 1862 Giovanni Boldini enrolled at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence. Here he came into contact with the Macchiaioli, principally with Telemaco Signorini, Michele Gordigiani and Cristiano Banti. From the earliest years of his career, Boldini displayed remarkable talent as a portrait painter, so much so that during a trip to London in 1869 he was able to obtain numerous commissions. In 1872 he settled in Paris where he set up a studio in Place Pigalle. From 1874 Boldini exhibited frequently at the annual Salons and rapidly rose to prominence in Parisian art circles. He began to paint society portraits and soon developed a reputation for his dazzlingly elegant depictions of fashionable society women, executed with bold, fluid brushstrokes. Boldini befriended other society portrait painters, for example Paul-César Helleu, John Singer Sargent and James A. McNeill Whistler, along with two of the greatest draughtsmen of the day, Adolph von Menzel and Edgar Degas. In due course, by the turn of the century, Boldini had become the most sought-after portrait painter in Belle Epoque Paris.