Modigliani: Painting Natural Female Beauty

Amedeo Modigliani
Portrait of Lunia Czechowska
Riccardo Gualino Collection

The library people are very good people. They know the value of the things they are dealing in, the reading stuff. 

They also care about the things, in proportion to their respective values; thus the newspapers are kept wide open on a front table, accessible to all those who can read and run away. 

But they store the books of values on the highest altars of the library where only a person with adequate height could have some inroads. 

The Artist: Once I had found a nicely bound and rarely opened book from one of those alters. That was a book about paintings of Modigliani; it was my first encounter with an artist of such a big height. The Italian painter Amedeo Modigliani (1884 to 1920) had two things in the fullest intensity: one was the art of painting and another was his poverty. 

Both played vital roles in his short life and artistic career. Contemporary painters like Toulouse-Lautrec, Georges Rouault, Paul Cezanne and Pablo Picasso were his favourite and had influenced his art.   

Portrait of Jeanne Hebuterne, by Modigliani
Private Collection   1917

Painting Fetching Millions in Auction  It was the time when words like “Live-In” or “Open Relationship” was not part of the” Man and Woman” relationship. And a woman having affair with a man, married or unmarried, were branded her with one word “Mistress”. 

The word has a stigma attached to it. And the relationship was not received with grace. But most of the artists, from the renaissance to the modern time, have cultivated such relationship, remaining out of their wedlock. These relationships have gifted many beautiful paintings and portraits.

Sold for $30 Million: Everyone present was struck when the hammer in one of Sotheby’s auction fell for Modigliani’s portrait of Jeanne Hebuterne. The portrait that Modigliani painted in the last days of his life was sold for $30 million in 2006.

One tragic event: After Modigliani died, Jeanne had died after two days of his death. It is believed that her death was not a natural death. She is buried just near Modigliani's grave.

Portrait of Jeanne H├ębuterne 1918
Amedeo Modigliani

Modigliani's Later years: Every artist would produce his or her best in later years of life. Modigliani, too, did so. He had a wonderful and one of the most beautiful young women as his model: Jeanne Hebuterne. she was only nineteen years of age when she met him first in 1917. 

Modigliani had painted her several times. The portrait given here is one of his best paintings done in the last years of his life. Jeanne was the model. 

Sometimes an artist, though deserved one, gets fame for the wrong reasons. Perhaps it was true in the case of Modigliani. Though he painted very beautiful portraits, his fame came from the paintings of females painted wearing no clothes. Modigliani’s females painted in their natural beauties had unusual faces.  

Modigliani had his own technique to paint the figures so flat, giving them the mask-like appearance. He painted the female model's eyes mostly in almond shape a nose a bit twisted. In most of his figurative paintings, he painted the stretched out the neck of female models. At the end of his, he had returned to Paris. His successful exhibitions in England helped him getting buyers. 

The Style:    Every artist suffers from one incurable disease: a passion for doing something unique. Modigliani also suffered from the same disease. Artists do put their signatures on paintings. But Modigliani used the whole frame as his signature. You would recognize his paintings at first sight. Deliberate distortion of the figures, large spaces, and the free use of flat areas of colour: these were the characteristics of Modigliani’s paintings. 

Jeanne Hebuterne in Large Hat
Amedeo Modigliani

The Art: Modigliani’s paintings of the females had a captivating arrangement of curvy lines and flat planes. He had executed in his female in a striking idealization of feminine flavour.

His occasional brushes with sculpture, due to his friendship with Constantine Brancusi, helped him to infuse in paintings the aspects like strong linear rhythms simply stretched out forms and notable verticality.

Jeanne Hebuterne in Large Hat, by Amedeo Modigliani In the cubist style of painting. The artist looks at the objects imaging them as geometrical forms, circles, triangles, cylinder, cones and like that. Thereafter the painter transfers the mental images on the canvass with the help of cool or bright colours. [All the images are in Public Domain, taken from Wikimedia Commons] 

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