giovanni boldini seated female nude
4 min

The Nudes of Giovanni Boldini, 'Paganini Of The Brush'

4 min

Giovanni Boldini (1842-1931) was an Italian portrait painter, not acknowledged by academic or avant-garde critics but extremely popular among the aristocracy. In his best years, the price of a large portrait ranged from 30,000 to 50,000 francs. His etudes of nude beauties blossoming in chaotic brushstrokes bring to mind the Swan Princess as she mesmerizingly transforms into a maiden under the moonlight.

 giovanni boldini Marchesa Luisa Casati, with a greyhound

Fig. 1. Marchesa Luisa Casati, with a greyhound, 1908 (

 boldini Fireworks, 1890

Fig. 2. Fireworks, 1890 (

boldini Portrait of the Marquise Casati, 1914

Fig. 3. Portrait of the Marquise Casati, 1914 (

Young Master Of Portrait Painting

Boldini was born in Ferrara to a family of religious painter and restorer Antonio Boldini. His pious mother gave birth to many children, and Giovanni was her eighth kid. The family had twelve kids in total. Among the brothers and sisters of the artist, there also was future architect Luigi Boldini. Being raised in an artistic environment, Giovanni started drawing earlier than talking. At five, he created a kind of workshop in the family barn. In 1850, he enrolled in the local primary school, though the studies were left very soon, as this determined and independent child wanted to devote himself to painting under the guidance of his father. Besides fine arts, Boldini was a passionate music lover and learned the harpsichord. As his father was a follower of the Renaissance masters, the young artist copied Raphaël yet started painting portraits and receiving commissions at fourteen.

giovanni boldini seated female nude

Fig. 4. Seated nude (

 seated nude giovanni boldini

Fig. 5. Seated nude (

 boldini Standing nude

Fig. 6. Standing nude (

 boldini Standing nude

Fig. 7. Standing nude (

 Pearl nude

Fig. 8. Pearl nude (

 boldini Nude in front of the mirror

Fig. 9. Nude in front of the mirror (

 Nude from behind  by boldini

Fig. 10. Nude from behind (

Michelangiolo Instead Of Michelangelo

In 1864, exempted from military service due to his short height, Boldini moved to Florence after he had received a sum from his paternal uncle. Boldini's goal was to complete his studies, for which he entered the Academy of Fine Arts. It was the second time when the artist abandoned classes after several brief visits. Instead, Boldini became a frequenter of the Caffè Michelangiolo, a meeting place of Florentine artists, the Macchiaioli group, in particular. These painters were theoretically similar to pointillists, as they regarded painting reproduction of the perceptual dynamics of the human eye, which sees the modulations of shadows and colors. Thus, the picture must be based on the gradations presented as spots. Boldini inclined toward a portrait genre but blended the figurative approach with Macchiaioli's visual dynamism, representing the background objects with thick brushstrokes.

 boldini Young dark lady

Fig. 11. Young dark lady (

 giovanni boldini Young lady entering bath

Fig. 12. Young lady entering bath (

In the extended Premium version of Boldini's story you can discover how the artist used his connections and continued to be successful, why he had lo leave France, what Time wrote about him after he passed away, and many other of his enticing paintings and rare sketches.

Click HERE for the ideal nudes of William Bouguereau, the photoshopper of the 19th century