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Portrait of the Artist's Wife, Jeanne Hebuterne, 1918

Amedeo Modigliani

Italian, 1884-1920
Oil on canvas
39-3/4 x 25-7/8 in. (101 x 65.7 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation
© Norton Simon Art Foundation

On view

With elongated proportions and mask-like faces, Modigliani’s mature portraits share an unsettling family likeness. The pictures he painted of one sitter, however, are distinguished by particular grace and reverence. Modigliani met Jeanne Hébuterne, an aspiring artist, in the summer of 1917; she fell passionately in love and, in November of the following year, bore him the daughter she may already have been carrying when she sat for this picture, assuming the pose of an Italian Renaissance Virgin Annunciate. Born in Italy, Modigliani had moved to Paris in 1906, immersing himself in the bohemian artistic communities of Montmartre and Montparnasse. He frequented Picasso’s studio, dabbled in Cubism, and developed an addiction to drugs and alcohol. By the time he met Hébuterne, he was already gravely ill but had evolved the distinctive style—influenced by Botticelli and the early Italian masters—deployed in this picture.

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