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Modigliani and His Models - Royal Academy

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

A NEW exhibition, Modigliani and His Models featuring portraits of the artist’s friends and lovers as well as strangers, can be seen at the Royal Academy until October 15, 2006.

The exhibition, the first of its kind to be held in Britain for over 40 years, consists of approximately 55 outstanding examples of the artist’s work, gathered from private and public collections in Britain, Europe, North and South America, and Japan.

Focusing on Modigliani’s fascination with the human form and physiognomy, it includes several examples of his best known portraits from the Montparnasse era – Picasso, Juan Gris and Paul Guillaume, for example.

Also included are images of peasants and young working girls and boys painted between 1918 and 1919 in the South of France; plus his Parisian portraits which were executed from 1917 until the time of his death in 1920.

The exhibition also reunites a number of Modigliani’s sensual and audacious nudes which are as characteristic of his work as the long necks, oval faces, almond eyes and small pursed lips of his portraits.

Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920) was born into a cultivated Jewish family from Livorno in Italy. In 1906, after studying in Florence and Venice, he moved to Paris where he became legendary for his dissolute bohemian life.

However, his restlessness was not reflected in his work which, apart from a handful of landscapes, was restricted to the depiction of the human form.

His death, at the age of 35, was brought on by a combination of ill health, and alcohol and drug abuse.