“And then- all my clothes fall off!”
Here is Madame Juillard. As the canvas is 180cm high, she is near life-size. She leans forward with that cheeky smile, clutching her breast with Boldini’s recurring motif of a tense, splayed hand.
Here is Maria Eulalia of Spain. That is the King’s daughter, framed by her pearls, with that dark inverted triangle formed between her hands. Fold your hands and look. It is quite hard to form a triangle like that.
And- here is Lady Colin Campbell, née Gertrude Elizabeth Blood, of whom Bernard Shaw wrote,
Imagine a lady with a lightning wit, a merciless sense of humour, a skill in journalism surpassing that of any interviewer, a humiliatingly obvious power of reckoning you up at a glance, and probably not thinking much of you, a superb bearing that brings out all the abjectness in your nature, and a beauty the mere fame of which makes you fall into an attitude of amateurishly gallant homage that fulfils the measure of your sneaking confusion. The custom is for the interviewer to describe the subject of an interview as his “victim”. It is not possible to express how completely the tables were turned on this occasion.
He painted her in 1897, when she was forty, two years after her husband’s death of a loathsome disease.