Giovanni Boldini (Italian, 1842-1931) Study of the head of a lady, thought to be Madame Alice Helleu
Lot 135
Giovanni Boldini
(Italian, 1842-1931)
Study of the head of a lady, thought to be Madame Alice Helleu
£ 800 - 1,200
US$ 1,100 - 1,600

Amended
Lot Details
Giovanni Boldini (Italian, 1842-1931)
Study of the head of a lady, thought to be Madame Alice Helleu
pencil with traces of red chalk
20.5 x 14.5cm (8 1/16 x 5 11/16in).

Footnotes

  • We are grateful to Dott.ssa Francesca Dini for confirming the attribution to Giovanni Boldini on the basis of photographs, and for her assistance in cataloguing this lot, which will be included in the first supplement of the catalogue raisonné on the artist currently in preparation. The work will be sold with a photo-certificate from Francesca Dini.

    Provenance
    The Estate of Lady Jane Abdy.
    UK collection.

    The present lot was in the collection of Lady Jane Abdy, a sophisticated collector and art dealer. She was instrumental in bringing French Belle Époque, Art Nouveau and Symbolist art to British collectors. Paul Cesar Helleu and Giovanni Boldini were just two of the numerous artists she was fond of, discovering many of them before they had amassed fame. Lady Abdy believed that Boldini, in this intimate sketch, had depicted Madame Alice Helleu – Paul Cesar Helleu's wife. In particular, the touches of red chalk hinting at her fiery hair and the bold outline of her nose, both distinctive characteristics.

    Helleu first met Alice in 1884 when he was commissioned to paint her portrait. They were married shortly after and she remained his favourite model throughout his career. Alice was both elegant and stylish, and depicted by other 19th century artists such as John Singer Sargent.

    Boldini has captured Alice with fluid yet delicate strokes and her soft-eyed gaze is cast downwards. The size of the sketch and demure pose suggests Boldini has caught her in a private moment. The work was possibly executed on one of the Boldini and Helleu family holidays at the end of the century, which were often taken on the Helleu yacht. A relationship between Helleu and Boldini was cemented between 1884 and 1889 when Boldini returned to portrait painting and they were both interested in painting the upper echelons of fashionable society.

    Boldini's interest in drawing as the purest form of creativity, and his adeptness at capturing the femininity and beauty of his subjects, is emphasised by works such as the present lot.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note the drypoint etching illustrated in the catalogue and online is not included in the lot.
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