Giovanni Boldini, Portrait Emiliana Concha de Ossa (The White Pastel)

Giovanni Boldini, Portrait Emiliana Concha de Ossa (The White Pastel), 1888
Giovanni Boldini, Portrait Emiliana Concha de Ossa (The White Pastel), 1888

Among six "huge pastel portraits, all of American ladies" painted in the early months of 1888, Boldini included that of Miss Emiliana Concha de Ossa, "a young girl of 18 as beautiful as a love", the youngest of the diplomat's three nieces and nephews and Chilean fine art lover Ramón Subercaseaux.

In 1889 presented (together with other fundamental works including the Portrait of Giuseppe Verdi and the Portrait of a Lady in a White Dress) at the Universal Exhibition in Paris (among the most sumptuous public events of the Third Republic), for which the painter was Commissioner of the Italian Section, the pastel obtained the gold medal and received unanimous and enthusiastic applause, confirming Boldini's fame as a sublime interpreter and witness of the sophisticated international beautiful world. "A figure of a young girl of unparalleled distinction, dressed in white muslin, almost transparent [...] the smiling face, the thin chin that ends in a point, with a sweet and witty gracefulness [...] figure of an angel or girlfriend or simply of a young lady who grants the longed-for waltz ». A symphony of whites - "whites of cream, of snow, of shiny paper, of new metal, the whites of the abyss and confetti, the exasperated whites", writes Colette - and in which the black of the velvet ribbon that surrounds the slender neck to give greater emphasis to the pallor of the girl's complexion. The white lilacs pinning to the neckline of the dress, the play of folds that favors the pose of the gloved hands - "the pose of a young girl who does not know what to do with her hands because she does not yet know the subtle art of provocative and affected gestures" - they form an ensemble of youthful and modest grace that reveals the painter's subtle psychology.

Of this glittering painting, of an extraordinary and hypnotic charm, an instant of stolen grace - but also well thought out: in fact there are several preparatory studies - of one of his favorite «greenhouse flowers [...] miracles of gracefulness [...] that seemed to invest with his daring panel », Boldini did not want to deprive himself; immediately executed this second version, of equal value, which the clients brought to South America, while the original, which remained in the atelier, was then donated by the widow Emilia Cardona to the government who assigned it to the Brera Art Gallery in Milan.



(Ferrara 1842 - Paris (F) 1931)

The White Pastel (Portrait of Emiliana Concha de Ossa), 1888

Pastel on canvas, 225 x 123 cm

Signed and dated lower right: Boldini 1888



Concha de Ossa collection, Santiago Chile; Private collection, Geneva

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Giovanni Boldini, Portrait Emiliana Concha de Ossa (The White Pastel), 1888


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