An April 1933 article in Time referred to Boldini as “Master of Swish,” an artist known for his exuberant, dashing style in late nineteenth-century Europe. The Italian artist settled in Paris in 1871 where he quickly gained renown as a skilled portraitist for elite French society. Impressionist influences are evident in a number of Boldini’s works. The artist’s loose handling of the brush and free-flowing, spontaneous technique are echoed in his prints.
According to a Frick Collection label on the verso of this frame, "Boldini executed this print in about fifteen minutes, while Whistler was taking a nap after a lunch that followed his final posing session for Boldini's full-length oil portrait.” Boldini has truly captured the essence of his subject. Whistler’s disheveled hair and characteristic bushy eyebrows and mustache are visual allusions to his spontaneous genius. The round object on Whistler’s lapel is not a button: it is a medallion that designates the artist’s receipt of the French Legion of Honor in 1889.
Private collection, California
The Frick Collection, “The Butterfly and the Bat: Whistler and Montesquiou,” November 14, 1995 - January 28, 1996