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Portrait of James McNeill Whistler

Giovanni Boldini

European Art

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.
MEDIUM Oil on canvas
  • Place Made: Europe
  • DATES 1897
    DIMENSIONS 67 1/4 × 37 1/4 in. (170.8 × 94.6 cm) frame: 75 1/4 x 45 1/2 x 5 in. (191.1 x 115.6 x 12.7 cm) weight with painting framed, glazed with Optium: 78 lb. (35.38kg)  (show scale)
    SIGNATURE Signed and dated lower left: "Boldini/1897"
    COLLECTIONS European Art
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CREDIT LINE Gift of A. Augustus Healy
    RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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    CAPTION Giovanni Boldini (Italian, 1842-1931). Portrait of James McNeill Whistler, 1897. Oil on canvas, 67 1/4 × 37 1/4 in. (170.8 × 94.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of A. Augustus Healy, 09.849 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 09.849_acetate_bw.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 09.849_acetate_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 1967
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