Amedeo Modigliani and His Nude Series
min Read11 July 2023
Amedeo Modigliani has always been one of my favorite portraitists because of his delicate lines with which he masterfully rendered the deepest depths of sitters’ souls, their inner mysteries hidden in almond-shaped eyes. Many people sat for him, his friends, his lover Jeanne Hébuterne, and his patron Léopold Zborowski. Yet here, I don’t want to focus on his portraits but on many nudes that Modigliani painted over 100 years ago…
It was Léopold Zborowski, Modigliani’s friend and dealer, who was behind all this. He commissioned the series, lent the artist his apartment as a painting studio, supplied models and painting materials, and paid him between 15 and 20 francs each day.
He then organized a show in Paris, also in 1917, exhibiting the series of Modigliani’s nude paintings, which turned out to be a huge scandal. The show was closed by police on its opening day because of obscenity concerns. It was also the only solo exhibition during Modigliani’s life.
Nu couché (Reclining Nude) was sold on 9 November 2015 for $240 million, which is a record for a Modigliani painting. This transaction placed it among the most expensive paintings in the world.
There are only about 30 Modigliani nudes, less than 10 percent of his oeuvre. However, the scandalous exhibition apparently exhibited only 7 of them.
The only thing that bugs me is the question: who were his models? We don’t know anything about these women painted so sensually by Modigliani.
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