11.10.2016 - 11.03.2017. “GIOVANNI BOLDINI: PAINTER OF THE BELLE ÉPOQUE”. The exhibition in the General Staff Building
From 11 November 2016, the General Staff building will be the venue for the exhibition Giovanni Boldini. Painter of the Belle Époque that has been organized by the State Hermitage in conjunction with Italy’s Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Tourism.
This is the first major showing in Russia of works by the celebrated Italian portraitist Giovanni Boldini (1842–1931) who created a gallery of splendid images depicting the stars of Parisian social and intellectual life in the Belle Époque. Following his death in 1931, Boldini was all but forgotten, like many figures from a brilliant period that had, however, already by that time become legendary. In the new century, interest has again arisen in the work of artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries who kept aside from the radical experiments of the avant-garde. The exhibition of works by Giovanni Boldini and his circle in the Hermitage marks one more stage in the “return” to the public of this artist’s oeuvre, which acquires value as a unique artistic testimony to the Belle Époque that he glorified.
The display brings together pictures from seven Italian museums, including the Uffizi Gallery, the National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome and museums in Parma, Barletta, Pavia and Treviso. The core of the retrospective, though, is formed by exhibits from the Giovanni Boldini Museum in Ferrara, the largest public collection of the painter’s legacy, with a unique composition, comprising mainly works from his studio that he did not intend to present to the public, a sort of “secret laboratory”, where he experimented freely in different genres and techniques. The early works included in the exhibition, as well as the inclusion of celebrated virtuoso high-society portraits, make it possible to reveal Boldini as a subtle painter receptive to the art of old and new masters who did not cease his searchings even at an advanced age.
Boldini’s reputation in his own lifetime was so great that in 1892, at the request of the director of the Uffizi Gallery, he painted his own likeness for the famous Vasari Corridor where self-portraits of eminent artists from the Renaissance onwards hang. This work, along with a portrait of the artist in bronze by Vincenzo Gemito, opens the exhibition.