Amedeo Modigliani 1884-1920 BACK

Portrait of Jeanne Hebuterne
oil on canvas 46x28cm
Yale University Art Gallery

Portrait of Jeanne Hebuterne

Modigliani's inability to pay for models, together with the lack of clients during the harsh years of World War I - when he was finally beginning to gain recognition-explain why the artist's works are populated almost exclusively by men, women, and children from his own circle, most of whom belonged to the artistic bohemia of Paris. Jean Cocteau, one of the painter's acquaintances, aptly described this scene when he said that "in Montparnasse we could afford the luxury of being poor; poverty was fun. " Modigliani portrayed each of his fellow bohemians in turn, including Chaim Soutine, a Lithuanian-born Jew who was destitute but had boundless admiration for the Italian artist; Beatrice Hastings, a writer who worked for a British magazine and had a tempestuous love affair with Modigliani; the poet Leopold Zborowski and his wife Hanka, who started out as commercial advisors to Modigliani and eventually became his caretakers when he fell-ill; and, above all, Jeanne Hebuterne, the artist's last great love, who gave up everything to follow her unstable-and occasionally unfaithful--companion even into death. The relationship that bound all of these figures to Modigliani was summed up in a tribute by the poet Max Jacob:
"Like an aristocrat, you led a life of simple grandeur. We love you."

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