11
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PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT ITALIAN PRIVATE COLLECTION

Giovanni Boldini
ITALIAN
THE LETTER
Estimate
80,000120,000
LOT SOLD. 91,250 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
11

PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT ITALIAN PRIVATE COLLECTION

Giovanni Boldini
ITALIAN
THE LETTER
Estimate
80,000120,000
LOT SOLD. 91,250 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

19th Century European Paintings

|
London

Giovanni Boldini
1842 - 1931
ITALIAN
THE LETTER
signed and dated Boldini / 73 lower right
watercolour and pencil on paper
26.6 by 21.8cm., 10½ by 8½in.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Emilia Cardona Boldini, Ferrara (wife of the artist)
Newhouse Galleries, New York
Thelma Chrysler Foy (her sale: Parke-Bernet, New York, 13 May 1959, lot 18)
John and Frances Loeb, New York (purchased at the above sale; their sale: Christie's, New York, The John and Frances L Loeb Collection, 12 May 1997, lot 102)
Private Collection, USA (purchased at the above sale)
Purchased by the present owner in 2006

Literature

The Frances and John L. Loeb Collection, London, 1982, no. 59, illustrated
Giuseppe Luigi Marini (ed.), Il valore dei dipinti italiani dell'Ottocento e del primo Novecento, Turin, 1997, p. 107
Piero Dini & Francesca Dini, Giovanni Boldini, 1842-1931, Turin, 2002, vol. III, p. 94, no. 149, catalogued & illustrated

Catalogue Note

Boldini painted the present work soon after he had moved permanently to Paris. Lured away from Italy by the promise of a new audience of French and foreign collectors, he signed a lucrative contract with the dealer Adolphe Goupil, painting a series of small-scaled works which depicted elegantly-dressed men and women in seventeenth century or, as here, Empire interiors. In the present work, two elegant ladies have just come in from a stroll, to be greeted by a letter, perhaps a love letter as indicated by the work's alternative title.

In his choice of subject and scale, Boldini reveals the influence of French artist Ernest Meissonier, whose carefully-painted small-scale genre scenes were widely celebrated. However, The Letter reveals Boldini's personal and unique approach to the genre. Working in watercolour rather than oil, he builds a softly layered palette of lacey whites, pale blue-greys and minty greens, contrasting with the saturated splashes of mustard-yellow, crimson and mahogany. While the artist often employs his brush to create the loosely defined swags of the wallpaper design, his strict control also renders subtly powerful elements which heighten visual interest.

In comparison with the women's flounce of feathers and folds of fabric, the furniture surrounding them is symmetrical and strong of line. The chairs are most likely of a good menuisier, such as the celebrated Jacob or Bellanger. The guéridon table with its glossy-grained wood, bronze appliques, and Spinx-like decorations allude to Napoleon's conquest of Egypt. It is likely no accident that the pink upholstered chair in the background bears a double swan design, their touching beaks and curved necks form a heart, and reveal the influence of Empress Joséphine on decoration.

19th Century European Paintings

|
London