‘Female Head’ in colour from the portfolio entitled Forty Five Drawings - Modigliani
A high-quality collotype/offset lithograph from the portfolio entitled Forty Five Drawings by Modigliani based on forty five original drawings of
Modigliani bearing No. CCXXI out of 250 copies, numbered I through CCL printed in 1959 for Grove Press Inc.
The drawings were selected by Lamberto Vitali.
The collotypes/offset lithographs were made by Arti Grafiche Pezzini, Milan.
Copyright 1959 by Guilio Einardi Editore and Grove Press inc, NY.
This offset lithograph is No.11 in the portfolio entitled Forty Five Drawings - Modigliani and bears the title ‘Female Head’
The blindstamp of Arti Grafiche Pezzni embossed on the print
Original mount size: 56 x 45cm
Image size: 37 x 24cm
Condition: Near-fine for age
In his short artistic career that spanned a mere 14 years or so, Modigliani did not engage in printmaking.
There are no original Modigliani prints or prints made after original works by Modigliani signed by him.
Forty Five Drawings – Modigliani is the only portfolio of offset lithographs after original drawings of Modigliani and is now very rare.
Amedeo Clemente Modigliani (1884-1920)
Amedeo Clemente Modigliani, the best known and most popular of all the modern Italian painters is a true iconic artist of the 20th Century.
Modigliani was born on July 12, 1884 into a middle-class Jewish family in Livorno, in Tuscany, home to a large Jewish community.
He was beset with health problems from a young age. When he was sixteen he was taken ill a second time with pleurisy and it was then that
he contracted tuberculosis, which eventually claimed his life. Despite her misgivings that launching him on a course of studying art
would impinge upon his other studies, his mother Eugenia indulged the young Modigliani’s passion for the subject and enrolled him at the Art
School of Livorno’s best painting master, Guglielmo Micheli.
From 1898 to 1900, under Micheli’s tutelage, Modigliani’s earliest formal artistic instruction took place in an atmosphere deeply steeped in a
study of the styles and themes of nineteenth-century Italian art. In 1900 Modigliani’s studies were interrupted when he contracted
tuberculosis, and his mother took him to recuperate in Southern Italy. Though he was frequently too weak to work during this time, he furthered
his artistic education through visits to many museums of Rome and Naples.
When his health improved in 1902, Modigliani was able to move to Florence to study figure drawing, enrolling in the Academia di Belle Arti
(Scuola Libera di Nudo, or ‘Free School of Nude Studies’). There he developed what was to be a life-long infatuation with life drawing.
In 1903, he moved to Venice, where he was enrolled at the Reale Istituto di Belle Art. There Modigliani’s talents as an artist continued to grow, but so did his dissolute ways. He was soon drinking heavily and smoking hash.
Modigliani travelled to Paris in 1906, at the time the focal point of the European avant-garde movement and the centre of artistic
He studied at the Academie Colarossi and resided in an artistic commune in the Montmarte area of Paris.
During his early years in Paris, Modigliani threw himself feverishly into his work. Working at a manic pace, he was constantly sketching, making
as many as a hundred drawings a day. But many of these works were lost, given away, mostly, to his many girl friends, who did not keep them or
were destroyed by Modigliani himself as being inferior.
The first French artists with whom he formed associations were Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Paul Cezanne. At this time he also became acquainted with other artists, including Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gaugin and the poet Max Jacob.
Despite his prodigious output, Modigliani failed to generate any widespread interest in his work and was forced to live in impoverished
conditions. However, he was saved from abject poverty by the committed patronage of a young doctor named Paul Alexandre, who figured in several Modigliani portraits of this period.
In this phase Modigliani also worked on sculptures of which twenty-five carvings and one woodcut have survived. In working on sculptures he
began to take an interest in Tribal Art and African sculpture, in particular masks.
Although Modigliani’s poor health was getting exacerbated by his continued drinking, substance abuse and chaotic love life, it was during these war years he produced much of his finest work.
Modigliani returned to portraitures, rendering his subjects with lines that were bold but simple and his mask-like faces were both flat and evocative. He brought into his creations the bold lines and geometric abstraction that he had mastered in creating his sculptures. During this period he also created more than 30 female nudes, drawing on his early training but in his new and distinctive style, having been
commissioned by his friend and dealer Leopold Zborovski. Although he continued to paint, Modigliani’s health began to deteriorate rapidly, and his alcohol-induced blackouts became more frequent.
Modigliani died on January 24 th 1920 of the then-incurable disease tubercular meningitis at the age of 35.
An Overview of Modigliani’s Artistic Legacy
In his early Paris paintings, there are indications of influences of Toulouse Lautrec and Cezanne. Cezanne’s style is seen in Modigliani’s
three extant landscape paintings.
Some commentators have argued that there is evidence of the influence of art from Africa, especially a possible interest in African masks and
Cambodian art, whilst others have advanced the view that in both Modigliani’s painting and sculpture, the sitter’s faces resemble ancient
Egyptian painting in their flat and mask-like appearance, with distinctive almond eyes, pursed mouths, twisted noses and elongated necks. Others have contended that Modigliani’s stylisations are just as likely to have been the result of his exposure to medieval sculpture and painting
during his studies in Northern Italy.
However, it could be argued that the work of Brancusi was the single most important influence on Modigliani’s artistic development.
Modigliani’s artistic legacy is inextricably linked to and bound up with his fragile health, which plagued him from his childhood, his perpetual
poverty, his over-the-top, self-destructive bohemian life style, which included tumultuous love affairs, sexual debauchery and the overuse of
alcohol and drugs, his death at the early age of 35 in pitiful circumstances.
Characterized by a sense of melancholia, elongated proportions, and mask-like faces, Modigliani’s portraits achieve a unique combination of
specificity and generalization.
Each reveals the sitter’s inner life, the subject’s personality, while his trademark stylisation and use of recurring motifs – long necks and
almond-shaped eyes – render them uniform. Modigliani’s portraits are unmistakably recognizable as works of its creator. In the words of one
critic, his portraits are unmistakably ‘Modiglianized’.
Modigliani painted a series of portraits of contemporary artists and friends in Montparnasse: Chaim Soutine, Moise Kisling, Pablo Picasso, Diego Rivera, Marie Vorobyev-Stebeslka, Juan Gris, Max Jacob, Blaise Cendrars, and Jean Cocteau, all sat for stylised, ‘Modiglianized’ portraits. So, Modigliani’s portraiture served as a vital art historic record, comprising a gallery of major figures of the Ecole de Paris circle, to which he belonged following his arrival in Paris in 1906.
Modigliani completely changed the tradition of the nude; he turned it upside down.
His creations in this genre are candid in their sensuality; they are distinctly devoid of the modesty and mythological subtexts evident in many earlier depictions of nude figures..
It is indeed a cruel irony of fate that whilst Modigliani failed to create any significant interest in his work during his own life, thereby exposing him to severe financial hardship, his works now fetch stratospheric prices.
Modigliani died penniless and destitute, managing just one solo exhibition in his life, which tragically was closed down by the local
police within a few hours of its opening. He is known to have given away his work for meals in restaurants.
Since his death his reputation has soared..
Today his richly coloured portraits and nudes are widely admired and celebrated by collectors and art lovers.
His importance is now firmly established due to his primitivist but evocative expressionist style of painting, which has influenced a wide
variety of artists in numerous movements.
He is not closely associated with any one particular early-twentieth century artistic genre or ‘ism’. Working in the prolific period of ‘isms’,
Modigliani was unclassifiable and he stubbornly insisted on his differences. He was an artist putting down paint on canvas to create
works ‘not to shock and outrage’ but to say, ‘this is what I see.’
Modigliani arrived at a signature style, a unique style of his own that reflects the fusion of aspects of contemporary European artistic
developments such as Cubism with non-Western art forms like African masks. Although Modigliani is best known as a painter, he focused on sculpture early in his career and, as some commentators have suggested, may have regarded his true calling as that of sculpture.
Modigliani’s sculptures helped him to develop his very own abstracted and linear idiom of his painting.
His portraits and nudes overturned traditional conventions of both genres by uniquely blending formal experimentation with probing candour and
Shunning categorisation into any school of art or adherence to any artistic movement or credo and treading a highly individualistic and iconoclastic path, Modigliani developed a sophisticated and mannered style, built upon graceful, decorative arabesques and simplified form.
In attempting to understand and appreciate Modigliani’s work, it is worth recalling the artist’s own words: ‘Every great work of art should be
considered like any work of nature. First of all from the point of view of its aesthetic reality and then not just from its development and the
mastery of its creation but from the standpoint of what has moved and agitated its creator.’
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