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Reclining Nude By Modigliani

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Sitting Nude By Modigliani

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Portrait of Jeanne Hebuterne By Modigliani

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Woman in Blue Dress By Modigliani

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Nude on a Blue Cushion By Modigliani

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Female Nude By Modigliani

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The Italian painter Amedeo Modigliani created a prolific body of work that included paintings and sculptures. Despite enjoying a short and tumultuous career, he is one of Italy’s most celebrated painters.

Modigliani’s style is distinct and easily recognisable for depicting elongated bodies and blank eyes. You may have seen artists painting in the Modigliani style without even realising its creator. Explore The Canvas Art Factory collection for more works from the great Italian painter Amedeo Modigliani.

Early Life

Amedeo Modigliani was born in Livorno, Italy in 1884. Modigliani was born into a wealthy family in the bustling Tuscan port city. Growing up, he admired Michelangelo and his only ambition was to be a sculpture, following the great Florentine artist’s footsteps. Modigliani enrolled in art schools in Florence and Venice, where he studied academic painting and life drawing.

Modigliani loved Italian poetry, specifically that of Dante. He memorised the poems of Dante and other poets and would regularly recite them. He loved poetry so much that he painted his contemporary poets such as Blaise Cendrars and Jean Cocteau. In 1959, Cocteau called Modigliani “the simplest and noblest genius of that heroic age.” At sixteen, Modigliani contracted tuberculosis.

Why did Modigliani move to Paris?

At twenty-one, Modigliani relocated to Paris, France, where he settled in Montmartre. The suburb drew the likes of many artists, Modigliani found himself in the company of those who shared the same passion for art. With sculptures and studio space to work on and store the stones being expensive, Modigliani sculpted when he had the money. He mostly painted. 

When he landed in Paris in 1906, Modigliani quickly experienced the works by Renoir, Degas, Cezanne, and Gauguin, as well as his contemporaries Matisse and Picasso.

Modigliani was so taken by the French city that he is known today as a Parisian-based artist. He often quoted Nietzsche when he said, “a man has no home in Europe save in Paris.”

Slowly, artists were shifting from Montmartre to Montparnasse, across town, and Modigliani joined the herd there. Besides the Parisian artists, artists from across Europe flocked to the area. These were Pablo Picasso, Diego Rivera, Piet Mondrian, Giorgio de Chirico.

Modigliani and Picasso

In 1915, Modigliani painted Portrait of Pablo Picasso. The pair first met in Paris in 1906. At the time, Modigliani had been living in the artistic community of Le Bateau-Lavoir, and Picasso had a studio there where he was working on his ground-breaking masterpiece Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. At one point, Portrait of Pablo Picasso was owned by Picasso.

Picasso once bought a Modigliani painting and, in desperate need of a blank canvas for his own art, he painted over the canvas. It’s said that Picasso admirer Modigliani more for his fashion sense than his painting skills. Apparently, one of the last things Picasso whispered on his deathbed was Modigliani’s name. The pair had a tumultuous friendship.


There are twenty-seven known Modigliani sculpture. Modigliani was heavily influenced by Michelangelo, creating his sculptures and artworks in the lively fashion of the Italian Renaissance Master. Modigliani’s portraits are known for their oval-shaped heads, almond eyes, immobile facial expressions.

Portrait of Jeanne Hébuterne

Modigliani met Jeanne Hébuternepair in 1917 at the Academie Colarossi, where Hébuterne was also an art student. Beginning in 1918, Modigliani painted his future wife over twenty times and emphasized her thick brown hair and blue eyes. His paintings of Jeanne are some of his best-known works. Oftentimes, she is painted seated on a chair, looking utterly graceful.

Reclining Nude (1917)

Modigliani’s nudes were controversial at the time. During his lifetime, he only had one solo exhibition, for which he painted a series of nudes. His dealer at the time, Leopold Zborowski, commissioned the paintings, and he allowed Modigliani to use his apartment, supplied him with painting materials and paid the models wages. He also paid Modigliani a daily wage for his work. The paintings drew in a large audience, including one police officer who was so offended by seeing the pubic hair on the models that he ordered the artworks to be taken down. Reclining Nude is one of such paintings. 

Nude Reclining on a Divan (1917)

Many of Modigliani’s nudes created for his first and only solo exhibition are some of his most famous paintings today. Nude Reclining on a Divan is one of them. The painting was heavily influenced by the Italian Renaissance and modern art, a mix that resulted in Modigliani’s unique style. 


Modigliani died in 1920 from tubercular meningitis. He was thirty-five. When Modigliani died, his paintings were worth less than $10. There were also a few people interested in them. Today, his paintings are auctioned off in the tens of millions.

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