Portrait of James McNeill Whistler
With this work, Boldini faced the challenge of painting one of his most esteemed peers and friends, the American artist James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834–1903). For this homage, Boldini combines the dark palette of Whistler’s own paintings from the early 1870s onward with an animated brushwork that conveys the sitter’s vibrant personality. Positioned slightly off-center leaning on the back of his chair, Whistler sits in evening clothes adorned with the red decoration of the Legion of Honor (established by Napoleon to recognize achievement in various fields), with his long legs and cane extending beyond the picture’s edge. While holding his top hat in a cursorily painted left hand, Whistler lifts his monocle to his right eye with a delicate flourish—a gesture that underscores the keen eye of an artist momentarily turned subject.
- Artist: Giovanni Boldini, Italian, 1842-1931
- Medium: Oil on canvas
- Place Made: Europe
- Dates: 1897
- Dimensions: 67 1/4 x 37 1/4 in., 71 lb. (170.8 x 94.6 cm, 32.21kg) frame: 75 1/4 x 45 1/2 x 5 in. (191.1 x 115.6 x 12.7 cm) (show scale)
- Signature: Signed and dated lower left: "Boldini/1897"
- Collections:European Art
- Museum Location: This item is on view in Elevator Lobby, 3rd Floor
- Accession Number: 09.849
- Credit Line: Gift of A. Augustus Healy
- Rights Statement: No known copyright restrictions
- Caption: Giovanni Boldini (Italian, 1842-1931). Portrait of James McNeill Whistler, 1897. Oil on canvas, 67 1/4 x 37 1/4 in., 71 lb. (170.8 x 94.6 cm, 32.21kg). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of A. Augustus Healy, 09.849
- Record Completeness: Best (88%)