The famous Amedeo Modigliani knew many women during his life, he courted them and fell in love with them, but only four were really important for him: Beatrice Hastings, Simone Thiroux, Lunia Czechowska and Jeanne Hébuterne.
Eternity and pleasure: the women of Modigliani
Amedeo Modigliani has been able to paint better than anyone else a female world made up of enigmatic and sensual women. The women that the Tuscan artist made eternal were drinking buddies, simple models or turbulent cohabitants of which he caught not only the beauty of the bodies, but also the tormenting truth of the looks. Sinuosity and harmony that for Modigliani were metaphor and image of life itself.
Between 1914 and 1916, Amedeo met Beatrice Hastings. She was already 35 and he was 30. Beatrice – English journalist and writer, independent and progressive – was different from the women he had known until then. With her he lived for two years a strong and intellectual passion, a tumultuous relationship – sometimes even violent – that acted negatively on their respective characters.
In spite of everything, Beatrice continually encouraged him to work and concentrate only on painting, a suggestion that the artist accepted inaugurating a new artistic period. Thanks to that encounter and the brief but intense relationship that followed, today we can still admire the Beatrice with a pale face, the long neck and the agitated and passionate soul who bewitched the young and talented Italian painter.
Amedeo Modigliani, Portrait of Beatrice Hastings, 1915, Museo del Novecento, Milan.
The one who first gave him a child was Simone Thirioux, a French-Canadian student who started to accompany Amedeo home when he was drunk. Simone, like many other women who met the fascinating artist, fell hopelessly in love with Modigliani, who never returned this feeling – in fact he did not acknowledge Gérald, the son he had from her in September 1917.
Although there was no room for Simone in the complicated existence of Modigliani, the almost secret story of their relationship lives in the delicate oil painting Jeune femme à la guimpe blanche.
Amedeo Modigliani, Jeune femme à la guimpe blanche.
Lunia Czechowska was a friend of Leopold Zborowski – a writer and one of the most famous Polish 20th century art dealers – and his wife Anna Hanka Zborowska. For her long-limbed figure, Lunia was one of the models preferred by the painter. As you can imagine, between the two slowly a great friendship was born that soon turned into love, a love that was impossible since Lunia was married.
Although the feeling could not be expressed, Modigliani dedicated many portraits, among which stands out the 1917 painting where the essential figure of Lunia is depicted with dark hair gathered on the nape, a white blouse – which emphasizes the very long neck – and a melancholy look.
Amedeo Modigliani, Portrait of Lunia Czechowska, 1917.
The last woman of Modigliani’s life, inspiring muse and her greatest love was the shy and reserved painter Jeanne Hébuterne. They met at the beginning of 1917 – he was 33 years old and she was just 19 – and it was immediately love. The relationship was opposed from the beginning by Jeanne’s father who did not approve of the daughter’s relationship with a painter whom he considered a depraved.
Against everything and everyone, Jeanne and Amedeo lived their love story, which on November 29, 1918, gave them a daughter, Jeanne. The tragic end of their love is known to all, as well as the intense and marvelous portraits that the great artist did to his beloved Jeanne.
Amedeo Modigliani, Portrait of Jeanne Hébuterne, 1919.
The exhibition in Taormina: “Modigliani Experience, Les Femmes”
To Modigliani and its muses is dedicated “Modigliani Experience, Les Femmes”, the exhibition that Palazzo Corvaja, in Taormina, hosts until 23 October 2018. The event is preparing to celebrate the centenary of the death of the great Italian artist (1920-2020) and presents over 40 artworks in which the female imagery of Amedeo Modigliani is reproduced, the exhibit is also enriched with multimedia content specially created such as the docu-video produced by Sky Art.