Modigliani exhibit poster

                  Enter the Exhibit

Disclaimer: The nudes in this exhibit were all chosen because they were painted in 1917. Since I don't have a complete list of the actual paintings from the original exhibit some paintings that appear here might not have been shown at the Berthe Weill Gallery in 1917.


On Monday, December 3, 1917 a group of invited guests gathered in Berthe Weill's gallery for the opening of a Modigliani exhibition. It was the 33-year old artist's first one man show and would remain the only one in his lifetime. The presentation of roughly thirty drawings and paintings had come about through the efforts of Leopold Zborovski, who had been able to persuade the committed art dealer, Berthe Weill, to put on the exhibition. She had just moved her gallery into new rooms on the Rue Taitbout, close to the Opera. It was Modigliani's bad luck that exactly opposite the gallery lay a police station, where the reason for the ever-increasing stream of visitors to the gallery was quickly noticed. Not only were a number of large-format nude paintings hung in the gallery rooms; for publicity purposes, one of Modigliani's elegant nudes had also been placed in the window. This was an attraction which caught the attention of many passers-by who stopped to take a closer look at the exhibition. This caused a small scandal which ended with the show being banned.

Berthe Weill was called in to see the commissioner. "I crossed the street to the shouts and jokes of the crowd and climbed the steps to the police station", she later told Jeanine Warnod, author of the book La Ruche et Montpamasse.
"The commissioner's office was full of 'customers'.

BW: 'You wanted to see me?'
Commissioner: 'Yes; I order you to take down all that filth.'
BW: I tried to reason: 'There are some connoisseurs of art who are not of your opinion [ ... ] What is so bad about the nudes?'
Commissioner: 'Those naked women! [ ... ] They have pubic hair'. And he puffed himself up, spurred on by the approving laughter of the poor devils crammed into the building, and continued: 'If my orders are not carried out immediately, I will have everything seized by a squad of policemen.'
BW: What an idyll [ ... ] Each policeman in the squad with a naked Modigliani beauty in his arms [ ... ] I closed the gallery and the invited guests helped me to take down the paintings."

Excerpt taken from
Modigliani The Poetry of Seeing
by Doris Krystof