Monday, July 11, 2022

Boldini: Les Plaisirs et les Jours, Petit Palais

Last Friday I saw the Boldini exhibit held appropriately in the Belle Epoch museum, Petit Palais. The subtitle is from Proust’s first published book of poems, ‘Les Plaisirs et la Jours’. Proust and Boldini were contemporaries.

Giovanni Boldini (1842-1931) known as the ‘master of swish’ for his explosive, energetic, electric brush strokes, was born in Ferrara and moved to Paris in 1871 where he took over John Singer Sargent’s grand studio.  

The 150 painting in the exhibit are lent from the Boldini museum in Ferrara.

Boldini and Marcel Proust moved in the same circles as aesthete and dandy, Count Robert de Montesquiou, here painted by Boldini with a haughty grandeur and vanity.
They went to the same soirees, attended the same salons. 
any of the same glamorous, high society subjects of Boldini’s fashionable portraits
Inspired the characters in Proust’s 7 novels, In Search of Lost Times. Which is the reason I ran to see the Proust exhibit at MAHJ next day. 
And the reason I ate so many madeleines (why is there no emoji for madeleines but plenty for donuts 🍩 ?).
Boldini became 
the favorite and most sucessful portraitist of a rich and international clientele. 
Women dieted for months to fit into the tiny-waisted gowns lent by couturiers to Boldini for his sittings.
Among them Countess Greffulhe (Duchesse de Guermantes in Proust’s novel) and Madeleine Lemaire (Mme. Verdurin). 
Boldini’s drawings and watercolors are just as remarkable and reflect the swift, rhythmic brush strokes of his oils. 
The don’t-miss exhibit is on until 24 July. Go and immerse yourself in the 1900s. Boldini probably took a coffee ☕️  at divine Cafe de La Paix facing l’Opera Garnier. 
Solli and I went to immerse ourselves in the glam old-world style. 
Cafe de La Paix was  having their annual 1-week charity event, but we went full-Monty for the house signature china instead of paper cups + croissant 🥐
I wish I’d known about Boldini when I painted this Belle Epoch perfume letter…I might have gone more swishy… Paris is fortunately still full of very popular Belle Epoch architecture like in my Paris map on Etsy. Immersion in 1900s Paris is easy when you know where to look. Share PB with a friend and consider receiving Parisbreakfast letters in your real mailbox 💌📮 Bonne Monday❤️🍒🇫🇷


  1. Renée3:15 AM

    The Petite Palais is one of my favorite big/little museums. It's free and it's right at a Metro 1/exit.
    I really enjoyed this Boldini exhibit!
    Thanks for the highlights.

  2. It is a glorious building Renée —
    an instant step back into the 1900s

  3. This sounds like a terrific exhibit, Carol. I love the title "Master of Swish." Beautiful art and fashion, too. As for the madeleines, I don't make them very often because I can't stop eating them. One of my favorites!

  4. Thank you for introducing me to the art of Boldini. I was not familiar with him.The Petit Palais is a magnificent building.🗼❤️

  5. I love madeleines so much!!
    Those look so perfectly two bitish.

  6. Anonymous9:34 AM

    Oh, I wish I were in Paris right now! (But I’ll be there all of October for a short writing sabbatical, so I’m not going to complain.) I would love to have seen all these recent Proust exhibitions. A week after 9/11 (the actual event), a book group I had formed in August began our task: reading the entirety of “Á la recherche du temps perdu.” The reading group was called Proust Geeks, and we started out with about a dozen members … which quickly dropped to three. By the end of “Swan’s Way,” it was just one fellow reader and I, and 18 months later we made it to the very end together. It was such a comfort to bring art, beauty, and intellectual spirit into my daily life through Proust during the aftermath of 9/11. I’m terribly sentimental about that time in my life. I have a massive collection of books about Proust and his cohorts. In October I will finally make my pilgrimage to Illiers-Combray, where Proust spent his holidays as a child and which feature so prominently in “Swann’s Way” (and his psyche). Perhaps my visit will prompt me for the inevitable second reading of “Á la recherche”?

  7. Love this wonderful blog on Boldini. In fact. I’d never heard of Boldini before,but I have long been interested in Proust. G
    Great to see they were contemporaries in their times.

  8. AWC Catering11:01 AM

    All that gorgeous fabric.

  9. You are so right on!
    Who wears satins now?? All about texture!

  10. Lois Flowers11:08 AM

    Thanks to you Carol I am always in the Know about art in Paris!

  11. AWC Catering12:28 PM

    I had a purple satin holiday dress I wore for years in the mid 70s. That's it.
    I Love satin and panne velvets❤️

  12. Oh, and I remember my mom had a dark red party dress that I loved to hear the swishhhh of when they returned late from dancing and she'd give me a good night kiss.

  13. Hmmm…You’ve been reading too much Proust

  14. I agree, Petit Palais is a beautiful building. A perfect setting for the Boldini exhibit. The dresses are exquisite. ❤️

  15. I love the Petit Palace, Boldini and Cafe de la Paix. So sorry to miss this exhibit - it looks really gorgeous. Hope you and Bear are doing OK in the heat.

  16. I’m sorry you missed it too Suki
    I should have gone sooner to review it
    Playing catch-up now mid-July!!

  17. Oooh, thank you for posting this, Carol! I wish I were there now to see the exhibit. I'm just finishing up a biography of Misia Sert, muse and patron of the arts during the Belle Epoque. Proust called her a "historical monument" and she is thinly veiled as Princess Yourbeletieff in Lost Time. Stay well and cool!

  18. Ahh…yes Misia was mentioned at the MAHJ/Proust several times.
    I read a biography on her years back…

  19. You never cease to amaze me with your wonderful art, stories, and glimpses of modern French culture

  20. Anonymous12:41 AM

    I first heard about Boldini when an
    “ abandoned” Pigalle apartment in Paris was finally opened by heirs after roughly 50 years. Everything had been left untouched ! A very large painting was found and experts sait it was a Boldini painting. It sold for over $1million 🙄. You can find articles about this apartment (with pictures) in French press (like “Le point”) under titles like “ appartement à Pigalle et Boldini”. It has inspired one or 2 books (“l’appartement oublié, etc…). Fascinating !


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