Lot 12
  • 12

Amedeo Modigliani

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  • Amedeo Modigliani
  • Jeanne Hébuterne (au foulard)
  • signed Modigliani (upper right)
  • oil on canvas
  • 92 by 54cm.
  • 36 1/4 by 21 1/4 in.


Constant Lepoutre, Paris

Roger Dutilleul, Paris (acquired from the above in 1919)

Galerie de France (Paul Martin), Paris (acquired from the above in 1943)

Pierre Lévy, Paris (acquired by 1956)

Jean Spira, Porrentruy, Switzerland (by descent from the above. Sold: Christie’s, London, 23rd June 1986, lot 42)

Purchased at the above sale by the present owner


Paris, Galerie de France, Modigliani peintures, 1945-46, no. 31

Paris, Galerie Charpentier, Cent tableaux de Modigliani, 1958, no. 95, illustrated in the catalogue

Marseilles, Musée Cantini, Modigliani, 1958, no. 36, illustrated in the catalogue

Geneva, Musée de l’Athénée, De l'Impressionnisme à l'Ecole de Paris, 1960, no. 53, illustrated in the catalogue

Lausanne, Palais de Beaulieu, Chefs-d'œuvre des collections suisses de Manet à Picasso, 1964, no. 294, illustrated in the catalogue

Paris, Orangerie des Tuileries, Chefs-d'œuvre des collections suisses de Manet à Picasso, 1967, no. 201, illustrated in the catalogue

Tokyo, Seibu Gallery & Kyoto, National Museum of Modern Art, Modigliani, 1968, no. 60, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Geneva, Musée Rath, Du Futurisme au Spatialisme, 1977-78, no. 58, illustrated in the catalogue

Paris, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Amedeo Modigliani, 1981, no. 84, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Tokyo, The National Museum of Modern Art & Aichi, Prefectural Art Gallery, Modigliani, 1985, no. 125, illustrated in colour in the catalogue 

Lausanne, Fondation de l'Hermitage, Les Peintres de Zborowski: Modigliani, Utrillo, Soutine et leurs amis, 1994, no. 15, illustrated in the catalogue


André Salmon, Modigliani, sa vie, son œuvre, Paris, 1926, illustrated pl. 36

Giovanni Scheiwiller, Amedeo Modigliani, Milan, 1927, illustrated (titled La moglie dell'artista)

Giovanni Scheiwiller, Modigliani, Milan, 1936, illustrated pl. 30

Seigo Taguchi, Modigliani, Tokyo, 1936, illustrated pl. 29

Gualtieri di San Lazzaro, Modigliani, Peintures, Paris, 1947, illustrated in colour pl. XV

Gualtieri di San Lazzaro, Modigliani, Paris, 1953, illustrated pl. XV

Arthur Pfannstiel, Modigliani et son œuvre. Etude critique et catalogue raisonné, Paris, 1956, no. 343, catalogued p. 167

André Salmon, La Vie passionnée de Modigliani, Paris, 1957, illustrated p. 257

Gualtieri di San Lazzaro, Modigliani: Portraits, Paris, 1957, illustrated in colour pl. 8

Jeanne Modigliani, Modigliani: Man and Myth, London, 1959, illustrated in colour pl. 14

Ambrogio Ceroni, Amedeo Modigliani, Dessins et Sculptures avec suite du catalogue illustré des peintures, Milan, 1965, no. 219, illustrated

Gaston Diehl, Modigliani, Lugano & Paris, 1969, p. 87

Nello Ponente, Modigliani, Florence, 1969, no. 61

Joseph Lanthemann, Modigliani, catalogue raisonné. Sa vie, son œuvre complet, son art, Barcelona, 1970, no. 341, illustrated p. 249

Leone Piccioni & Ambrogio Ceroni, I Dipinti di Modigliani, Milan, 1970, no. 305, illustrated p. 103

Bernard Zurcher, Modigliani, Paris, 1980, no. 68, illustrated in colour

Osvaldo Patani, Amedeo Modigliani. Catalogo generale, dipinti, Milan, 1991, no. 317, illustrated in colour p. 313

Amedeo Modigliani, l'œil intérieur (exhibition catalogue), Lille Métropole Musée d'Art Moderne, d'Art Contemporain et d'Art Brut, Villeneuve d'Ascq, 2016, fig. 47, illustrated in colour p. 130

We are grateful to the Institut Restellini for the additional information they have provided for this lot. This work will be included in the forthcoming Modigliani Catalogue raisonné by Marc Restellini.

Catalogue Note

Jeanne Hébuterne (au foulard) is a wonderfully elegant and poignant portrait of Modigliani’s companion and muse. The highly refined aesthetic Modigliani developed in the last years of his life - with the rich palette and sublimely graceful line - is beautifully represented in this portrait. Inspired by the art of his native Italy, and influenced by the avant-garde artists he surrounded himself with in Montparnasse, Modigliani forged a uniquely evocative style which is particularly characteristic of his portraiture.

The present work was executed shortly before both Modigliani’s and Jeanne’s premature deaths two days apart, in January 1920. Their tumultuous relationship and its tragic ending is one of the most enduring examples of cultural mythology. Jeanne (fig. 3) was born in 1898 and was just nineteen years old when she met Modigliani in the summer of 1917, while studying at the Académie Colarossi, which Modigliani had attended since his arrival in Paris in 1906 and where both attended life drawing classes. For the next three years, she would be his constant companion and source of inspiration, and the artist was to immortalise her image in a number of portraits (figs. 1 & 2). Although Jeanne was an artist herself, having committed suicide at the age of only twenty-two, she remains known primarily through Modigliani’s portraits of her. By the time he started depicting Jeanne, Modigliani had developed his mature style, and the portraits of his companion painted during the last three years of his life are his most refined and accomplished works.


Kathleen Brunner wrote about the couple’s relationship: ‘Jeanne Hébuterne met Modigliani in 1917, while she was a young art student at the Académie Colarossi. The following year she became his companion and the model who embodied the graceful, Italianate aesthetic of his late work. […] Hébuterne was devoted to Modigliani, as he was to her, even pledging in writing to marry her. She was introspective and compliant, although she may have had a stronger character than is commonly acknowledged […]. In their final months, in Paris, Modigliani painted some of his most poignant, Madonna-like portraits of Hébuterne, pregnant for the second time. When Modigliani died on 24 January 1920, Hébuterne was distraught and, two days later, committed suicide by leaping from an upstairs window’ (K. Brunner in Modigliani and His Models (exhibition catalogue), Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2006, p. 150).


The elegant style of the present work and the mannerism that characterised Modigliani’s portraiture in general are partly derived from the artist’s fascination with the Old Masters of his native Italy. As Werner Schmalenbach wrote: ‘Historical associations impose themselves: echoes not only of the fifteenth-century Mannerism of Sandro Botticelli but of the classic sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Mannerism of Pontormo, Parmigianino and perhaps also El Greco. One work often mentioned in connection with Modigliani’s late portraits of women is Parmigianino’s Madonna dal collo lungo; Pontormo’s St. Anne Alterpiece is equally relevant. Modigliani had a sound knowledge of Italian art, and we must assume that he was well aware of all this, however direct or indirect the actual influence’ (W. Schmalenbach, Modigliani, Munich, 1980, p. 42).


At the same time, Modigliani was acutely aware of the artistic developments of his own time. Although he never completely subscribed to the syntax of Cubism, he adopted some of its stylistic devices such as the geometric simplification and break-up of forms, and was close to the sculptors Ossip Zadkine and Jacques Lipchitz, both of whom were strongly influenced by Cubism. Even more important perhaps was his relationship with Brancusi, whom he met in 1909. Brancusi not only encouraged him to carve directly in stone, causing him virtually to abandon painting for several years, but also gave the most convincing demonstration of how influences from the widest possible range of sources – tribal, archaic, Asian and African – could be transformed into a personal idiom of the greatest originality (fig. 6).


Between 1909 and 1914 Modigliani devoted most of his creative effort to stone carvings and preparatory drawings, and during this time considered himself primarily a sculptor. In his sculptural opus, Modigliani never abandoned the motif of the human figure, alternating between heads (fig. 4) and caryatids. The highly stylised, elegant facial features of his stone carvings reflect an amalgamation of influences, from Khmer sculpture to ancient Egyptian and Greek art. A particularly strong source of inspiration was found in African dance masks. Modigliani arrived in Paris at the time when tribal art was being ‘discovered’ by avant-garde artists and he soon became a pioneer of ‘primitivist’ style alongside Picasso, Matisse and Brancusi. Modigliani applied his fascination with African masks (fig. 5) first to his stone carvings and later to his painted portraits. What he and his fellow artists – including Picasso (fig. 7) - responded to was the simplification and abstraction of the human figure, a style that helped define the development of early modernism in Europe.


Modigliani imbued his portraits of Jeanne with an emotional and psychological dimension rarely found in his other work, as described by Claude Roy: ‘In most pictures of Jeanne we find a very discreet, deliberately subdued color orchestration […] in the softness of the colors, the fragile delicacy of the tones and the exquisite discretion with which relationships between the picture elements are stated, we cannot fail to sense the expression of a love no less discreet than ecstatic. Modigliani is speaking here almost in a whisper; he murmurs his painting as a lover murmurs endearments in the ear of his beloved. And the light bathing the picture is the light of adoration’ (C. Roy, Modigliani, New York, 1958, pp. 112-113). Jeanne Hébuterne (au foulard) displays the softness and the gently emotional tone that Roy described, accomplished through the use of subtly curved lines and a rich, warm palette.


In the catalogue of the exhibition Modigliani: The Melancholy Angel held in 2002-03 Modigliani’s portraits of Jeanne are discussed in comparison to photographs of her taken by Blaise Cendrars, Jean Cocteau and Paul Guillaume: ‘Now, thanks to the photos of Jeanne, we can for the first time appreciate the full extent of Modigliani’s sensitivity to the woman he loved and drew such inspiration from; how irresistibly he evoked her gauche physical presence, rather emphatic features, her magnificent head of auburn hair, often plaited, and her melancholy moue. Contemporaries such as Stanislas Fumet compared her to a swan’ (Modigliani. L’ange au visage grave (exhibition catalogue), Musée du Luxembourg, Paris, 2002-03, p. 386).


This exquisite three-quarter length portrait powerfully synthesises all the characteristic traits which Modigliani developed in his post-1916 portraits: the geometric simplification of the female form, the S-shaped curve of her body inscribed by a flowing melodic line to which her whole body is subjected, the elongated neck and face, the stylised, accentuated line of her nose and the pursed, small mouth with sensuous lips. Uniquely, in Jeanne Hébuterne (au foulard) Modigliani has endowed his lover with a pair of piercingly bright eyes, with delicately indicated pupils. This departure from his more usual ‘almond’ vacant eyes, which imbued his sitters with an enigmatic and impenetrable mood, gives Jeanne a powerful sense of personality. What makes the present work stand out among Modigliani’s portraits is a beautifully achieved balance between his unique mannerism and stylisation and a tender insight into the personality and psychology of his muse.

This work has been requested for the forthcoming major Modigliani retrospective to be held at Tate Modern, London from November 2017 to April 2018.