Erotica

Amedeo Modigliani and His Nude Series

Magda Michalska 24 January 2023 min Read

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…

Amedeo Modigliani, Reclining Nude, 1917, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, modigliani nudes nude
Amedeo Modigliani, Reclining Nude, 1917, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA. 

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.

Amedeo Modigliani, Nude Looking over her Right Shoulder, 1917, private collection.
Amedeo Modigliani, Nude Looking over her Right Shoulder, 1917, private collection. Numero.

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.

Amedeo Modigliani, Nu couché, 1917-18, Private collection nudes modigliani nudes
Amedeo Modigliani, Nu couché, 1917-18, private collection. ABC News.

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.

Amedeo Modigliani, Nude on a Blue Cushion, 1917, National Gallery of Art, Washington nudes modigliani nudes
Amedeo Modigliani, Nude on a Blue Cushion, 1917, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA. 

There are only about 30 Modigliani nudes, less than 10 percent of his oeuvre. However, the scandalous exhibition apparently exhibited only 7 of them.

Amedeo Modigliani, Nude Seating On A Sofa, 1917, Private Collection nudes modigliani nudes
Amedeo Modigliani, Nude Seating On A Sofa, 1917, private collection. WikiArt.

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.

Amedeo Modigliani, Nude With Necklace, 1917, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY, USA.
Amedeo Modigliani, Nude With Necklace, 1917, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY, USA.

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