12 July 2016

Amedeo Modigliani – artist

Illness marred the life of creative genius 

Amedeo Modigliani: A photograph taken in  about 1918, when the artist was 34 years old
Amedeo Modigliani: A photograph taken in
 about 1918, when the artist was 34 years old
Painter and sculptor Amedeo Clemente Modigliani was born on this day in 1884 in Livorno in Tuscany.

The artist went on to become famous for his portraits and his paintings of nudes, which were characterised by their elongated faces and figures.

Modigliani did not receive much acclaim during his lifetime, but after his death his work became popular and achieved high prices.

He was born into a Jewish family and suffered health problems as a child, but began drawing and painting from an early age and begged his family to take him to see the paintings in the Uffizi in Florence.

His mother enrolled him at the art school of Guglielmo Micheli in Livorno where he received artistic instruction influenced by the style and themes of 19th century Italian art.

In 1902 Modigliani enrolled in the school of nude studies at the Accademia di Belle Art in Florence and then moved on to Venice to continue his studies.

Modigliani's portrait of his lover, Jeanne Hébuterne
Modigliani's portrait of his lover,
Jeanne Hébuterne
In 1906 he moved to Paris, where he set up a studio with Jacob Epstein.

He lived with a beautiful young French art student, Jeanne Hébuterne, from 1917 until he became ill with tuberculosis and died in 1920, at the age of just 35. She threw herself out of a window the day after his death, killing herself and her unborn child.  The two are buried in the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris.

Travel tip:

Livorno, where Modigliani was born, is a port on the western coast of Tuscany, which deals with thousands of cruise ship passengers each day.  The city used to be known as Leghorn in English and there is an English cemetery in Via Giuseppe Verdi, which houses the graves of many former British residents, including the novelist, Tobias Smollett.

Travel tip:

The Uffizi in Florence, where Modigliani asked to be taken as a child, is one of the oldest and most famous art galleries in the world and houses a wealth of Renaissance art treasures. Located in Piazzale degli Uffizi close to Piazza della Signoria and the famous Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, it was originally built as a suite of offices in 1560, but later became used by the Medici family to display their art treasures. For more information, visit www.uffizi.org

More reading:

Giorgio Vasari - art's first historian

The merchant's wife immortalised as the Mona Lisa

The wonderful legacy of Tintoretto


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