Boldini's heirs. Inscribed on verso in pen and black ink no. 14 atelier Boldini / Emilia Boldini Cardona / 1931
Black chalk, on wove paper with watermark P_ M_ FABRIANO
The son of a modest painter, Giovanni Boldini enrolled in the Accademia in Florence in 1862. In Florence he came in contact with the Macchiaioli, principally with Signorini, Michele Gordigiani and Cristiano Banti. From the earliest years of his career, Boldini displayed a remarkable talent as a portrait painter, and during a trip to London in 1869 he was able to obtain numerous commissions. In 1872 he settled in Paris, taking a studio on the Place Pigalle. Beginning in 1874 Boldini exhibited frequently at the annual Salons and quickly rose to prominence in Parisian art circles. He began to paint society portraits and soon developed a reputation for his dazzling, elegant depictions of the fashionable society women, executed with bold, fluid brushstrokes. Boldini befriended other society portrait painters, such as Paul-César Helleu, John Singer Sargent and James A. McNeill Whistler, and was also friendly with two of the greatest draughtsmen of the day, Adolph von Menzel and Edgar Degas. By the turn of the century Boldini had become the most sought-after portrait painter in Belle Epoque Paris.