Boldini. The show of Modernity

Art exhibition about the painter Giovanni Boldini
Musei San Domenico – Piazza Guido da Montefeltro, 12
Forlì (FC)

As of 1 February 2015, the major exhibition “Boldini. Lo spettacolo della modernità” (Boldini. The show of Modernity) is open at the San Domenico Museums in Forlì, proposing a review of the career of Giovanni Boldini, the most important and prolific Italian artist living in Paris. This new exhibition stages the ideal space between Forlì and Paris.

His long-lasting career was marked by different periods that show an undeniable creative genius and a continuous drive to experimentation, which dried up at the outset of World War I. Born in Ferrara, the painter enjoyed great fortune, but at the same time generated controversy among the critics and the public.

Dalla soffitta a Ferrara 1870
From the garret in Ferrara with his sister, 1870

Loved and criticised by the very first who showed some interest in him, Telemaco Signorini and Diego Martelli, he was understood and adopted by highly sophisticated Paris during his years of success, that of the Goncourt brothers, Proust, Degas, Helleu, the aesthete Montesquiou and the eccentric Colette.

Scena di festa al Moulin Rouge Museo d’Orsay
Celebration at the Moulin Rouge, 1889 at Musée d’Orsay Paris France

Unlike some previous exhibitions, this one hopes to convey a wider and more articulated view of the varied creative production of the artist, focusing not only on his paintings, but also on his extraordinary graphic production, including drawings, watercolours and engravings.

The divine in blue, watercolors

The most recent surveys have brought to light new works, both paintings and graphic works.

At the core of the exhibition, which is also its main strength, is the first period of the artist from 1864 to 1870, when he stayed in Florence in direct contact with the Macchiaioli. The Macchiaioli were a group of Italian painters active in Tuscany in those years who, breaking with the antiquated conventions taught by the Italian academies of art, did much of their painting outdoors in order to capture natural light, shade, and colour. This practice relates the Macchiaioli to the French Impressionists who came to prominence a few years later, although the Macchiaioli pursued somewhat different purposes.
This Boldini’s phase was characterized by fine and original small paintings, mostly portraits. It is staged from a different perspective, thanks to the presentation of part of the extraordinary cycle of wall paintings done between 1866 and 1868 at the Villa named “Falconiera”, in Collegigliato (Pistoia), where the English Falconer family lived. They mainly depict large Tuscan landscapes and scenes of rural life which give a comprehensive overview of Boldini’s production as a Macchiaiolo.
The first sections on the ground floor are dedicated to the artist’s image evoked by portraits and self-portraits; to his biography through images (people and places he used to go to); to his workshop, and to his graphic works which best represent his relentless creativity.

4 boldini - dipinti murali della falconiera - palme
Wall tempera at Falconer Villa – palms, 1867

The first sections on the ground floor are dedicated to the artist’s image evoked by portraits and self-portraits; to his biography through images (people and places he used to go to); to his workshop, and to his graphic works which best represent his relentless creativity.

Autoritratto di Montorsoli
Montorsoli’s self portrait, 1892

The following sections on the first floor, after the “Falconiera” cycle, include portraits of friends and collectors, which suitably depict the period during which he approached the Macchiaioli movement. But also wonderful landscapes such as that of La Grande rue à Combes-la-Ville (1873).

Diego Martelli’s portrait
Giovanni Boldini, La Grand Rue
Grande rue à Combes-la-Ville (1873), Museum of Philadelphia

The next phase is when the artist definitely moved to Paris and created beautiful landscapes and small paintings with gender scenes; in this period, he was mostly connected to the famous and powerful merchant Goupil.

Berthe sitting on the bench in the wood

Scenes of modern life, depicted both indoor and outdoor, will follow and become especially important as they offer the opportunity of a comparison with other Italian artists working in Paris like De Nittis, Corcos, De Tivoli and Zandomenenghi. In this period, Boldini was one of the most successful interpreters of the French metropolis which was growing at an incredible pace as the world capital of arts, culture and worldliness.

Paris during by night (1882)

The last sections are devoted to portraits: the artist became the real protagonist of this genre – famous people portraits – on an international level. For the first time ever, his paintings are displayed along with the sculptures by Paolo Troubetzkoy, thus creating an interesting comparison from an iconographic and formal viewpoint.

Emiliana Concha de Ossa’s portrait, 1901
madame charles max
Madame Charles Max, 1886
Maria Eulalia of Spain, 1898


Date: the event is held from Feb 01, 2015 to Jun 16, 2015

Event timetable: Tuesday to Friday 9.30am-7.00pm; Saturday, Sunday and on holidays 9.30am-8.00pm. Exceptionally open on 6th April and 1st June. The ticket office closes one hour prior to closing time.

Entrance: entry fee

Full fee: 11.00€; 12.00€. It is always possible to visit the exhibition without booking a date or specific time. It is possible to purchase and offer the exhibition ticket as a gift.

Reduced fee: 9.00€. Groups of more than 15 people, youths under 18 and seniors over 65, holders of special cards, university students showing their badge and residents of Forlì-Cesena; 5.00€ primary and secondary schools; children aged 6 to 11

Free entry: children under 6, one leader for every group, disabled people with a caregiver, two teachers for every school class, journalists showing their badge, tour guides showing their badge.

Guided tours can be organised for groups wishing to visit the exhibition as well as the town of Forlì and the territory. For information, CONTACT ME


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