Paul Guillaume

Amedeo Modigliani1915

The Toledo Museum of Art

The Toledo Museum of Art


  • Title: Paul Guillaume
  • Creator: Amedeo Modigliani
  • Date Created: 1915
  • Location Created: Europe
  • Physical Dimensions: w521 x h749 cm (Complete)
  • Catalogue entry: A champion of African art and of the contemporary avant-garde, the twenty-three-year-old art dealer and writer Paul Guillaume (1891-1934) sits in his library in front of a bookcase with a piano in the background in this striking portrait by Amedeo Modigliani. The composition consists of broad expanses of slightly modulated tones. The subject is defined by only a few lines. Detail is minimized—Guillaume's features are reduced to their essentials—and space is flattened. Modigliani met Guillaume in 1914 through his friend (and former Picasso roommate) the poet Max Jacob. Versatile and enterprising, Guillaume realized the close connection between criticism and the promotion of modern art. He founded the review Les Arts à Paris in 1918 to further the cause of the art he championed. He became one of Modigliani's earliest supporters, exhibiting his works as well as those by Picasso and Matisse. From 1914 to 1916, when Guillaume was his dealer, Modigliani painted four portraits of him and executed several related drawings. In this portrait, Modigliani concentrated on the sitter's features rather than his character. By carefully selecting and emphasizing a few details, Modigliani provided clues to Guillaume's individuality. The small, pursed lips and severely trimmed mustache seem petulant. Guillaume's almond-shaped eyes have been painted to reveal no pupils or irises. His individuality has been reduced to the impenetrable stylization of a mask (like the African masks Guillaume admired), and he becomes part of the stage set in Modigliani's highly pictorial ensemble. As in most of Modigliani's portraits, the subject remains distant and aloof.
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Gift of Mrs. C. Lockhart McKelvy
  • External Link: http://classes.toledomuseum.org:8080/emuseum/view/objects/asitem/123/10
  • Medium: Oil on board