Modigliani

Head, Full Face  c.1911

 

 

Black crayon, 16 3/4 x 10 3/8 inches; 42.6 x 26.3 cms                                                                             

 

 

Provenance:      Dr Paul Alexandre, Paris, to whom it was given by Modigliani.

                          By descent to the present owner.

         

Reproduced:      The Unknown Modigliani, Noël Alexandre, - Page 291 [No. 247].

                          Published by Fonds Mercator, 1993.

                        

 

The above book, written by Paul Alexandre’s youngest son Noël, is dedicated:

 

To my friend Richard Nathanson whose enthusiasm and artistic sensibility have encouraged me to publish this account.

 

Exhibited:       Modigliani Drawings from The Collection of Paul Alexandre at:

 

                         Venice,     Palazzo Grassi, September 1993 - January 1994.

                         Tokyo,      Ueno Royal Museum, October - December 1994.

                         Montréal,  Museum of Fine Art, February - April 1996.  

                         Rouen,      Musée des Beaux Arts, July - October 1996.

                        

 

 

 

 

 

The short, rhythmic, almost ‘chiselled’, strokes around the head and delicate line of the eyebrows ‘flowing’ into the bridge of the nose suggest this drawing was done at a similar time to his finely carved head above.

 

Much has been written about Modigliani’s desire to devote himself virtually exclusively to sculpture. However his extraordinarily sensitive, nuanced colour tones and graphic line, contradict this, for his drawing and painting enabled him to portray, in a way he could not have done in sculpture, the diverse, subtle richness and beauty of character ‘the mystery of what is instinctive in the human race’ [the words he wrote in his 1907 sketch book] he saw all around him; and which so thrilled and captivated him.  

 

Perhaps his stone carving, and certain of his sculpture-related drawings, were with their serene, otherworldly, often androgynous heads and forms, an essential purifying rite of passage towards achieving his stated goal. 

 

It is fascinating to consider this mysteriously anonymous head in relation to the portrait of his lover Beatrice Hastings below, painted some six years later.

 

Art Gallery of Ontario                                                                                         

      

 

 

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