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This portrait, whose model we know only by her first name, is traditionally dated 1915 and displays certain similarities— elongated, cylindrically-shaped neck, geometric back¬ground lines, rounded facial outline—with the female fig¬ures of this period, including the portraits entitled Madame Pompadour, Portrait of an Auburn-haired Woman, The Red-haired Girl, the last exposed at the Orangerie museum.

The portrait of Antonia reveals a freely-interpreted approach to Cubist procedures, although Modigliani was never truly affiliated with the movement. Some examples: the double line of the nose and the patterns of the ear and hair suggest a rendering of the model's profile, while the eyes are reduced to two oval shapes, with no attempt at modeling or convincing illusionism. Yet the woman, whose dark dress is echoed in the background wall-hanging, is very present, revealing a certain complicity with the artist. In this harmony of brown and dark blue, the window does not admit daylight, but the axis of its cross-piece is on the same axis of the face and echoes the double-cruciform sign that follows Antonia's name. The graphism of the name, in letters that emerge against a background similar in brushstroke to the handling of the face, is a further evocation of the young woman.

If Modigliani does not use the customary means—psychological gaze, expressive facial features—to express his feelings vis-à-vis his model, he possesses his own specific pictorial language, which abounds in suggestive signs that oftentimes require decoding and always close inspection.

Details

  • Title: Antonia
  • Date Created: Circa 1915
  • Provenance: Walter-Guillaume Collection
  • Physical Dimensions: w460 x h820 mm
  • Painter: Amedeo Modigliani
  • Type: Oil on canvas
  • Rights: © RMN (Musée de l'Orangerie)

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