Female Nude Amedeo Modigliani Buy Art Prints Now
from Amazon

* As an Amazon Associate, and partner with Google Adsense and Ezoic, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
Email: [email protected] / Phone: +44 7429 011000

Amedeo Modigliani made this painting of a female nude around 1916. The dull, soft green of the underpainting and the background sets the relaxed tone for this languorous nude portrait.

The green can be seen breaking through the cream and pink tones of the model's flesh and the contrasting colours bring the skin tones to life.

The soft green is balanced by a dark, rich red tone to the right, behind her. The paint is applied confidently and with immediacy, the brusque, sharp brush strokes, clearly visible on the surface, imparting texture and enhancing the sensuality of the nude figure.

At a time when what were then known as 'Salon nudes' portrayed characters from mythology or religion in historical or allegorical settings, Modigliani broke with convention by introducing an element of realism.

Not for him the layers and layers of delicate glazes that made up the smooth polished surfaces of his contemporaries' paintings; he used classical poses but made his subjects real, in fact all too real.

The model for this painting was Iris Tree, an actress as well as an artists' model, daughter of Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree. At the time this young woman posed for Modigliani, the depiction of the female form with visible, realistic pubic hair was unheard of. So controversial was it that the following year, 1917, the police summarily closed an exhibition of his citing indecency.

As he did in most of his paintings, Modigliani elongates the face, giving his dozing model a peaceful expression. The influence of both Picasso and Brancusi is apparent in his work. Her eyes are closed, but she does not avoid our gaze. Indeed she seems quite content and unconcerned at being observed.

Modigliani, born in Livorno in Italy in 1884, spent most of his working life in France and although a large proportion of his early work was sculpture, he is probably best known for his later portraits and figure paintings.

His style of painting was a skilful balance between the classical and the modernist, and although it was not universally sought-after in his lifetime, today his works command millions of pounds at auction. You can see the original painting, Female Nude, at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London.