Yale University Press
In shops on 19 January
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Boldini – also known as the most amazing impressionist you’ve never heard of. I often fancy myself to be quite the smarty-pants when it comes to art history considering all the classes I had to take in college. But if Boldini was on the syllabus, then I was at IHOP, I guess. This artist, who would become known as the “Parisian from Italy” can really deliver the goods (you should see the self-portrait he did at age 14). Rather than opting for formal training, Boldini picked up his trust fund and hoofed it over to Florence (ah Florence!) to hang out with the other wannabes before moving to Paris in 1871. This book focuses on the next 15 years of his work – mostly portraits and sketches and moments in the city streets – which are all part of the exhibit at The Clark in Williamstown, Massachusetts (14 February – 25 April 2010). You’ll see the influence of his contemporaries like Degas and Manet in the works of Boldini, but what’s most impressive is the way he brings fine detail into focus in the midst of an otherwise impressionistic swirl (makes me think of the wispy blots of smoke in “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” actually). In “Child with a Hoop” this is especially apparent as some cranky ankle-biter is hoisted off the ground by his mother. The kid’s face is as clear and detailed as a porcelain doll, but Momma’s figure loses all sense of physics once you leave her mid-section. If you can’t make it to the Berkshires for this exhibit, then the book is certainly worth a look with informative writing by Sarah Lees, Associate Curator of European Art at the Sterling and Francine Clark Institute.