Amedeo Modigliani has always been one of my favourite portraitists: for his delicate lines with which he masterfully rendered the deepest depths of sitters’ souls, their inner mysteries hidden in the almond-shaped eyes. Many people sat for him, his friends, his lover Jeanne Hébuterne, his patron Léopold Zborowski. Yet today I don’t want to focus on typical portraits but many nudes that Modigliani painted in one significant year of 1917, so exactly a 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 fifteen and twenty francs each day.
Then he organized a show in Paris, also in 1917, which turned out to be a scandal. The show was closed by police on its opening day because of the issues of obscenity. It was also the only solo exhibition during Modigliani’s life.
Nu couché was sold on 9 November 2015 for $170,405,000 which is a record for a Modigliani painting. This transcation 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 young girls, painted so sensually by Modigliani.