Friday, December 28, 2018

Arty Farty Friday ~ Giovanni Boldini, "Master of Swish"

 Self portrait
One needs only to see a couple of portraits by Giovanni Boldini (31 December 1842 - 11 July 1931) to be able to recognise others - his style is striking and individualistic. He was known in some circles as the "Master of Swish".

Snip from article at Daily Art Magazine: also at that website are some large format images of his portraits, well worth a look.

Boldini must have really loved fashion, since most of his portraits feature evening gowns as least as prominently as the women wearing them. These dresses typically steal the show, but when you look at them closely, they seem to dissolve into near abstraction. Boldini was a master at using loose, flowing, swirling brushstrokes to indicate elegant silks and chiffons that take on a life of their own. The most recognizable feature of his style, this earned him the nickname “the Master of Swish”. He usually painted other sections of his works, such as sitters’ faces and elegant furniture, with more solidity, and this contrast only makes the fabrics that much more striking. His works are also recognizable for the subjects’ exaggerated pointed chins, bow-like red lips, elegant noses, and lithe hands and fingers held at jaunty angles.

From a New York Times article

A reviewer of the 1897 Paris Salon wrote that to encounter one of Giovanni Boldini’s flamboyant portraits of society beauties was to see “a woman, and in her the entire age.”

Chiefly famous for his portraits of wealthy, often titled, Belle Époque women, Boldini also painted the composer Giuseppe Verdi, the artist James MacNeill Whistler and the dandy and decadent Robert de Montesquiou. These male portraits too seem to capture both the personalities of their subjects and the era they lived in.

Boldini divided critics and confused even his admirers. In 1878, his longtime friend the critic Diego Martelli said, “To describe the talent of this artist is a more than difficult task, and it is even harder to explain his painting.” Boldini’s pictures, he observed, “have parts that are executed with incredible minuteness, and parts that are left capriciously unfinished” — a characteristic that was to become the trademark of his mature style.

Many critics during his lifetime and since have regarded his work as flashy, facile and lacking in depth — the mirror of a spoiled and frivolous period that would end with World War I. Yet a contemporary, the writer J.-K. Huysmans, said, perceptively, that Boldini was “truly more than a fashion painter.”

 Lady in Red

 Mme Charles Max-Pictif

 Portrait of a Young Woman in Profile

 Reading in bed


I found no natal chart online, so decided to add one here. Time of birth is unknown, so a 12 noon chart has to suffice.
Giovanni Boldini was born in Ferrara, Italy on 31 December 1842. He died on 11 July 1931.

Hmm - that's a lot of Capricorn!  Predominance of Capricorn would indicate a good businessman, which he obviously was. It indicates someone  solid and reliable in tasks or commissions undertaken. Boldini was much sought after as portraitist of the wealthy.

Things to note:  At each end of the Capricorn cluster are Neptune in Aquarius and Venus in Sagittarius at 17 and 20 degrees respectively - in helpful sextile. That is a good aspect for any artist, Neptune represents imagination and creativity and Venus is planet of the arts.  Pluto, from Aries is making a harmonious trine to Venus in Sagittarius adding a touch of sensuality - present in some of his paintings.

Where do we see his 'Swish' ? It could be Mars at 1 Scorpio making a sextile to either Moon, depending on time of birth, or a little more widely to natal Sun. The energy of Mars is definitly a good place to look for 'Swish' .


Dali said...

Lovely works here. I imagine an opulent room full of these paintings, and simultaneously, readings of Baudelaire's poems. A bit racy, in parts erotic, sumptuous. Foods served would have to fill the mouth with texture.
What a treat to discover your website. I do hope you'll visit mine at
Here's to a year full of new adventures!

Twilight said...

Dali ~ Hi there! Thank you for your visit and observations about the paintings of Boldini, with which I agree!

Thanks too for the link to your website & blog. I visited briefly just now but intend to return tomorrow, to look around and read more - it's getting late now, eyes closing. I'll add your link to those in my sidebar then too.

Warm seasonal good wishes to you too, Dali. :)

Dali said...

Just a quick visit in to say thank you for the reply, "Twi"
A link in your sidebar would be very generous. But only do so if the website captures your interest.

Twilight said...

Dali ~ I tried, a couple of times, to put a link in the sidebar, but can't access your website. I got a notice : "Domain Verification Required". Perhaps something connected to end of year stuff? I will try again tomorrow.