(Leghorn 1884 – Paris 1920)
Amedeo Modigliani was born in Leghorn (Livorno) on 12 July 1884, the fourth child of Flaminio Modigliani and Eugénie Garsin.
Amedeo’s precocious propensity to painting revealed itself when he started to frequent the studio of the artist Guglielmo Micheli from Leghorn starting from the summer of 1898.
He left on a trip with his mother after recovering from a pulmonary ailment. He discovered Naples, Amalfi, Capri, Rome and Florence. The following year, he enrolled at the “Scuola Libera di Nudo dell’Accademia di Belle Arti” in Florence where he deepened his knowledge of Italian Impressionist painting (also called “Macchiaiola”), the Tuscan avant-garde artists and their leader Professor Giovanni Fattori.
He attended the “Scuola Libera del Nudo” in Venice. He met the artist Ortiz de Zàrate with whom he discovered the Biennial Exhibition of Modern Art in Venice and the European artistic trends, with a particular attention to the works of Cézanne and Van Gogh. During this period, he left for England for the first time.
He arrived in Paris in early February. After a short stay at the hotel in Madeleine, he rented a studio in Montmartre. He enrolled in the drawing courses at the “Accademia Colarossi.”
He met Dr. Alexandre and took up residence in the sprawling tenement block set up by Alexandre in rue Delta 7 in Montmartre to work with other painters. Exhibited at the “Salone d’Autunno*” in Paris.
He exhibited numerous works at the “Salon des Indépendents” in Paris in the Fauve painters’ gallery.
He met Brancusi at the “Cité Faulguiére” in Montparnasse, sculpted with him in his Paris studio and later invited him to Leghorn in the summer of 1909.
He received favorable reviews during the “Salon des Indépendent.” During that year, he dedicated himself solely to sculpture, influenced by the archaic forms of idols and primitive masks.
He exhibited a combined work of sculptures and drawings at the studio of the artist Souza Cardoso in Montparnasse. He visited Normandy with his aunt Laure.
In early 1912, he painted numerous portraits on canvas including that of Dr. Alexandre, but went back to Leghorn in summer to regain his strength and to work on his stone sculptures. In September, he went back to Paris and met Jaques Lipchitz, Augustus John and Jacob Epstein. Showed his “Teste: insieme decorativo” at the “Salon d’automne.”
The art dealer Chéron offered him his first paid contract for his paintings. He met the painter Soutine and worked with him at the studio in Boulevard Raspail 216.
After the declaration of war in 1914, Modigliani stopped seeing his friend Paul Alexandre and broke all contact with many other artists: an important period for his painting which became his sole form of expression. He abandoned sculpture, met the English poetess Béatrice Hastings, set up a studio in Montmartre and shared his enthusiasm with Diego Rivera and Kisling. Max Jacob introduced him to Paul Guillaume, who became his dealer until 1916.
During that year, he exhibited 15 paintings and 3 sculptures at the studio of Emile Lejeune in Paris. His meeting with Léopold Zborowsky, an exiled Polish poet, was determinant for his carrier as an artist.
In March, Amedeo met Jeanne Hébuterne, a young student at the “Academie Colarossi,” with whom he moved in to the studio rented for them by Zborowsky in rue de la Grande-Chaumiére in Montparnasse. The first personal exhibition of the Italian artist was held at the “Galleria Berthe Weill” but was closed down on opening day for outrage against decency…
Due to Modigliani’s worsening state of health, he and Jeanne Hébuterne were obliged to stay in Nice for rest. They also stayed in Cagnes with Foujita and his wife Fernande, Soutine, Survage, Cendrars and Osterlind. He painted four landscapes of Cagnes, the only ones of his whole career. The Paul Guillaume Gallery in Paris held a collective exhibition of the works of young painters: Matisse, Picasso, and Modigliani.
On 29 November, Jeanne gave birth to Giovanna Modigliani.
On 31 May 1919, Modigliani went back to Paris. Jeanne was expecting another baby.
Zborowsky organized, with the Sitwels brothers, a collective exhibition in London entitled “Modern French Art” which received praises from the press.
On 22 January, an unconscious Amedeo was brought to the “Ospedale della Charité” where he died of tubercular meningitis without having regained consciousness. Jeane Hébuterne, eight months pregnant, commited suicide the following day. Modigliani was laid to rest on 27 January at the Pére Lachaise Cemetery in Paris; the body of Jeanne Hébuterne lies next to his.