Dictionary of Art and Artists


that Changed the World


  Lascaux Caves Manesse illuminated Massys Callot Friedrich Picasso
  Tutankhamen's tomb Lorenzetti Grunewald Rembrandt Constable Matisse
  Europa and Minotaur Karlstein Castle Baldung Claude Lorrain Delacroix Marc
  Banquet Tomb Limbourg brothers Altdorfer Velazquez Turner Kandinsky
  Pompeii Van Eyck Cranach Vermeer Ingres Monet
  Birth of Christianity Della Francesca Holbein Rigaud Manet Chirico
  Hagia Sophia Uccello Titian Watteau Burne-Jones Modigliani
  Book of Kells Mantegna Bruegel Canaletto Seurat Chagall
  St Benedict Botticelli Vicentino Boucher Van Gogh Kahlo
  Bayeux Tapestry Anonymous Arcimboldo Fragonard Toulouse-Lautrec Dali
  Donizo manuscript Durer El Greco Gainsborough Munch Ernst
  Liber Scivias Bosch Theodore de Bry John Trumbull Cezanne Hopper
  Carmina Burana Da Vinci Caravaggio David Gauguin Bacon
  Falcon Book Michelangelo Rubens Gros Degas Warhol
  Giotto Raphael Brouwer Goya Klimt  

From Lascaux to Warhol

Supreme art is a traditional statement of certain heroic and religious truth,
passed on from age to age, modified by individual genius,
but never abandoned.

William Butler Yeats




The Poetic Nude

Absinthe and transfiguration



Wouldn't you like to rest? With these words her gestures assumed a new softness so that I trembled in the innermost fiber of my being as if to a voice never heard and indefinable. She felt me, and over her eyes descended a heavy veil and I fell on my knees and with my eager hand on her body, she stood up, her body taut and quivering like a living harp.

Gabriele d'Annunzio, Infermezzo, V 111-117 (1883)



Plagued by misfortunes:
Modigliani's Self-Portrait of 1919, and his wife Jeanne Hebuterne, 1918



His name stood for scandal. Amedeo Modigliani was a wild aesthete after the manner of his time. He loved Nietzsche, Baudelaire, Oscar Wilde and Gabnele D'Annunzio, smoked hashish, drank absinthe, danced naked on the tables of third-rate cafes, fought with the police and spent many an odd night locked up. He is supposed to have been intimate with many waitresses, painter's models and prostitutes. Once a model schoolboy, he was also tubercular and the English writer Beatrice Hastings left him when he decided to find his happiness and health in alcohol and drugs. She was fed up with getting up early every day to write the articles and poetry that put food on their table — while he slept until noon.

The young Italian, who had moved to Paris in 1910, forgot her soon enough. He met the love of his life at Mardi Gras: a girl fourteen years younger than himself, Jeanne Hebuterne. Friends warned him to keep away from her because she came from a family which had sired celebrated clerics. Her parents would find him a disgusting character. But Modigliani was not to be deterred. The tragic aesthete who, despite the excesses of his Paris life, still retained at thirty-three the beauty of his youth, had fallen deeply in love. He found in her the incarnation of the "lady with the swan-like neck" whom he had painted many hundreds of times. It was love at first sight for both of them and the power of love removed all obstacles. Jeanne defied her family to be Modigliani's permanent model. His fame grew, chiefly due to the series of paintings of which Nude with Necklace is one. The critic Francis Carco wrote in 1919 on the series: "Animal suppleness, waiting motionless in abandonment of self, in delicious languor, has never been more tellingly interpreted by a painter." Others praised Modigliani's poetic nudes as "hymns to a sensitive beauty".

The elegiac melancholy of these paintings reflects the tragedy and uncertainty of their creator's own life. For the first time he had enough money to live on, yet his health was collapsing. He died of meningitis on 24 January 1920. He was thirty-six and an incurable alcoholic. Jeanne Hebuterne, who was nearly nine months pregnant, committed suicide the following morning by jumping out of a window of her parents' fifth-floor flat.

see also: Nude in Art of the 20th century. "The Second Temple of Beauty"


Amedeo Modigliani
Nude with Necklace


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