Featured artist of the week Amedeo Modigliani

Amedeo Clemente Modigliani was an Italian painter and sculptor,

Born: July 12, 1884

Died: January 24, 1920

Parents: Eugenie Garsin, Flaminio Modigliani

Spouse: Jeanne Hebterne

Modigliani was born into a Sephardic Jewish family living in Livorno Italy. Livorno a port city had long served as a refuge for those persecuted for their religion and was home to a large Jewish community. His maternal great great grandfather , Solomon Garsin had migrated to Livorno in the 18th century as a refugee.

Modigliani´s mother, Eugenie Garsin, born and raised in Marseille, was decended from an intellectual, scholarly family of Sephardic ancestry that for generations had lived along the mediteranean coast line. His mother was fluent in many languages, and her ancestors were authorities on sacred Jewish texts, they also founded a school of Talmudic studies.

His family legend can be traced back to the lineage of the 17th century Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza. The family business was money lending, with branches in Livorno, Marseille, Tunis, and London. They had good fortunes with this business.

Modigliani´s father, Flaminio was a member of an Italian Jewish family of successful business men and entrepreneurs. While they were not as culturally sophisticated as his mothers side of the family, they knew how to invest in and develop thriving business endeavors.His father Flaminio was a wealthy young mining engineer who managed a mine in Sardinia and 30,000 acres of timberland owned by his family.

In 1883 a reversal in fortune happened to this prosperous family. An economic downturn in the price of metal plunged Modigliani´s family into bankruptcy. His mother being a resourceful woman used her social connections to establish a school and along with her two sisters made this school a successful enterprise.

Amedeo Modigliani whose birth coincided with the disastrous financial collapse was the forth child. Amedeo´s birth in fact saved the family from financial ruin; according to an ancient law creditors could not seize the bed of a pregnant woman or a mother with a new born infant, Just as the bailiff´s entered the family home Eugenie went into labor, the family protected their most valuable assets by piling them on top of Modiglianis mother so the assets could not be confiscated.

Modigliani had a close relationship with his mother who taught him at home until he was 10. He was a sickly child with health problems with Pleurisy at age of 11 and then a few years later he was hit with Typhoid fever. When Modigliani was 16 he was ill again when he contracted Tuberculosis. His mother wrote in her diary that Modigliani´s charactour was still unformed and she didn´t know what to think of it . She said he behaved like a spoiled child , but he did not lack intelligence. She guessed perhaps he was going to be an artist.

Modigliani worked in Micheli´s art school from 1898 to 1900.Here his earliest formal artistic instruction took place in an atmosphere steeped in a study of the styles and themes of 19th century Italian art. He showed great promise while with the Micheli art school and only stopped his studies due to the onset of Tuberculosis. Modigliani was part of the movement called Macchiaioli. His connections to this movement was through his first art teacher Gugliemo Micheli. Gugliemo was not only a Macchiaioli himself but had been the pupil of the famous Giovanni Fattori a founder of the movement.

In the spring of 1917 Modigliani was introduced to Jeanne Hebuterne who was also a art student. Poor Jeanne was renounced from her dovoute Roman Catholic family for her liason with Modigliani. Despite her families rejections they were soon living together. They had moved into a studio on the Rue de la Grande Chaumiere. Jeanne began to pose for him and is the principal subject for many of his paintings. Towards the end of the first world war Modigliani and Jeanne left Paris to escape the war and travelled to Niice and Cagnes-sur-mur. They had a busy social life at this time with friends including Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Pablo Picasso. Giorgio de Chirico and Andre Derian.

After Modigliani and Jeanne moved to Nice on the 29th of November 1918 she gave birth to a daughter who they names Jeanne (1918- 1984) Modigliani had three other children at least that were considered illegitimate at the time. In May of 1919 they returned to Paris with their infant daughter and moved into an apartment on the Rue de la Grande Chaumiere. Jeanne became pregnant again and Modigliani then got engaged to her, but Jeanne´s parents were heavily against it. Jeannes parents did not like the fact that Modigliani had a reputation as a drug user and alcoholic. However Modigliani officially recognized Jeannes daughter as his child but despite their best efforts Jeannes parents still refused and voiced their resistance and when Modigliani discovered he had a severe form of Tuberculosis their wedding plans where shattered.

Still Modigliani and Jeanne remained devoted to each other and Modigliani continued to paint even though his health was deteriorating quickly and his alcohol induced blackouts became more frequent. Then in 1920 a neighbor who had not heard from the family in a few days went to check on them only to find Modigliani laying in bed delirious and holding onto Jeanne. A doctor was sent for , but little could be done because he was in the final stage of Tubercular Meningitis. Modigliani died on the 24th of January 1920 at the hospital de la Charite.

The funeral was said to be enormous and many from the artistic communities attended. When Modigliani died Jeanne was 21 years old and pregnant with their second child. A day after the funeral Jeanne was taken to her parents home. She was overtaken by grief and inconsolable and she threw herself out of the fifth floor window. Killing herself and their unborn child. They are buried together at the Pere Lachaise Cemetery.Since his death, despite dying poor and destitute, his reputation has soared to great heights. Nine novels, a documentary, a play, and three feature films have been devoted to his life.

Modigliani´s sister in Florence adopted his daughter, Jeanne ( 1918-1984 ) As an adult Jeanne wrote a biography of her father titled Modigliani: Man and Myth. Only 14 months old at the time of her parents death Jeanne was an orphan. After being adopted by Modigliani´s sister she spent her child hood in the Modigliani hometown of Livorno. She graduated in art history in Florence. Jeanne was married twice and in her second marriage to Valdemar Nechtschein they had two daughters Anne and Laure. Jeanne and Valdemar divorced in 1980. Jeanne died in a Paris hospital following a fall that caused a cerebral hemorrhage.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s