Modigliani's admiration for Cézanne emerges in a series of portraits in which the artist interrogates deep-lying relationships between a figure and its setting. Here, the chair and table seem to participate in the model's pose by freeing the tensions of the head and body through their role as physical supports. The facial contours are softened by sinuous lines, lightened by colors that are paler than those in the pre¬ceding works. The face and hands are handled with sur¬prising restraint, reminiscent of the artist's background as a sculptor: blurred brushstrokes on sparingly detailed hands, which betray more strength than skill.
Cézanne’s figures, such as his portraits depicting smokers and drinkers (particularly the one entitled The Smoker, in the Pushkin Museum, Moscow) have similar goals to those of Modigliani in The Young Apprentice: same pose, same quest for meditative expression, same unification of the pictorial surface. Is this a specific borrowing or merely a meeting of minds? This work remains firmly in Modigliani’s extremely specific and recognizable style.