Giovanni Boldini's marked propensity for an almost constant mobility, combined with the sensuality of female movements and manners, sees in this extraordinary painting of 1900 one of his best results.
The protagonist is the famous Spanish dancer Anita de La Feria, immortalized in a sinuous flamenco step, in the act of collecting her beloved bullfighter's hat from the ground. She advances on the Moulin Rouge scene with a cadenced rhythm, followed by the movement of the bata de volantes and the multicoloured manton de Manila.
Presented at the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1900 with the title of Danse espagnole, this work marks the beginning of a series of oil paintings dedicated to the beautiful and sensual Anita. In the painting, Boldini succeeds in impeccably rendering the Latin dance through a dynamic composition that shows the fluctuation of fabrics.
Through a masterful use of colours - the pearl grey spread in sharp, impulsive brushstrokes, the white of the flesh, lights, reflections, the dark pink of Anita's shawl and the bright red of the flower in her hair - Boldini defines the shapes of the dancer which seem to move in the surrounding space. A Spain of strong contrasts is evoked as Boldini manifests his direct knowledge of Velázquez's painting but also pays tribute to Manet's famous evocations of Iberian culture as well as the French fascination with Spanish customs in the second half of the nineteenth century.
(Ferrara 1842 - Paris1931
Spanish dancer, 1900
Oil on canvas, 40 x 35,5 cm
Signed and dated at bottom right: Boldini 1900
Emanuele Rossello, Milan; Private collection; Milan