Schwenke Auctioneers - Anniversary Fine Estates Auction - May 22

Spirited Masterpiece: Rita de Acosta Lydig by Giovanni Boldini

  • January 05, 2016 11:16

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Boldini created this stunning commissioned portrait of the famed Rita de Acosta Lydig, a work considered to be one of his greatest masterpieces.
M.S. Rau Antiques, New Orleans
Artists from all disciplines wanted a chance to capture the beauty of "the most picturesque woman in America"
M.S. Rau Antiques, New Orleans
Boldini's unique brushwork is graceful yet bold. The technique earned him the title "The Master of Swish"
M.S. Rau Antiques, New Orleans

Commanding. Intelligent. Charismatic. Intrepid.
Few artists posses the ability to capture the essence of their subjects beyond their outward beauty. However, as seen in this breathtaking portrait of famed socialite Rita de Acosta Lydig, the great Giovanni Boldini elevates portraiture to a fluid and all-encompassing art form that reflects both Lydig’s physical and emotional allure.

Touted as “the most picturesque woman in America”, Rita de Acosta Lydig was a solid fixture in late-19th and early-20th century society, and counted some of the era’s most creative icons amongst her closest friends, including Boldini, John Singer Sargent, Auguste Rodin, Edgar Degas, Ethel Barrymore and Leo Tolstoy. Artists, painters and photographers, were enamored by her beauty and clamored at the chance to have Lydig sit for them. She was a creative force herself, and had a tremendous influence on art and fashion of the day. When Sargent was asked why Lydig never created art herself, the artist replied, “Why should she?  She herself is art.”

When it came to her most notable portrait, there is no question as to why she chose Boldini to paint it. The artist was renowned for his undeniably exquisite portraits, highlighted by his unique brand of swift, elongated and bold brushwork that earned him the moniker “The Master of Swish.” Everyone who was anyone had to have their portrait painted by Boldini. In 1910, Lydig and her husband commissioned two portraits from the artist, of which this grand chef-d'oeuvre is one. Their other commissioned work features the couple and is currently in the collection of the Museo Boldini in Ferrara, Italy.

Measuring nearly six-feet in height, this masterpiece is also known as the “Rothschild Boldini”, for in 1931, Lydig’s estate was purchased by the important French dealer Wildenstein who sold this incredible painting to his most significant client and collector of exceptional art, Baron Maurice de Rothschild.

Since Boldini primarily created specially commissioned portraits, the vast majority of his work is held in private collections–making this stunning tour de force an exceptional rarity.

To learn more about this painting, click here.

About M.S. Rau Antiques:
M.S. Rau Antiques has spent over 100 years earning the trust of discerning collectors world-wide. Located in the heart of New Orleans’ historic French Quarter, our peerless showroom houses one of the world’s most extensive and stunning collections of important fine art by artists such as Monet and van Gogh, rare 18th-and 19th-century antiques and breathtaking jewelry, including rare colored diamonds.


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Beauty, Rarity, History...The M.S. Rau Antiques Blog

A New Orleans institution for over 100 years, M.S. Rau Antiques is among the premier antiques galleries in the world. Located in the heart of the French Quarter, our 25,000 square foot gallery overflows with incredible antiques by names including Tiffany & Co., Paul Revere and Fabergé. Our unparalleled selection of important, original paintings and sculpture spans the 16th through the 21st century, created by legendary artists such as Brueghel, Monet and Rockwell, and our diverse selection of exquisite jewels, including rare colored diamonds, Kashmir sapphires and Burma rubies is without equal.

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