Livorno 1884 - Paris 1920
oil on canvas
114 x 74 cm
Inventory number 2060
As a painter, Amedeo Modigliani was in search of the 'ideal woman'. In 1906, he moved from his native Italy to Paris, where he continued his quest. He became acquainted with the avant-garde artists of 'Le Bateau-Lavoir', a complex of studios in Montmartre that was also frequented by Picasso. Also in Montmartre, he met the art dealer Leopold Zborowski, at whose request he produced a series of some thirty nudes from 1917 onward. While his reclining nudes are almost lecherous, the sitting and standing ones seem rather reserved and naive. They tend to be young, fragile and inconspicuous. This also holds for this particular Sitting Nude, arguably one of the best Modigliani ever painted. It shows a young woman, her pubic area covered with a loincloth. Unlike in the artist's other renderings of female nudes, this model has a voluptuous body. On the other hand, the stylised oval face, the elegant neck and the almond-shaped eyes are all quite characteristic of the flamboyant artist's work.
It seems that great artists often die young, and Modigliani was no exception. He succumbed to a combination of tuberculosis, drug abuse and alcoholism at the age of thirty-five. The day after his death, Jeanne Hébuterne, mother of his daughter and pregnant of their second child, jumped from a window. Modigliani is said to have encouraged her to commit suicide, so that he would be forever rejoined with his beloved model in death.