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Amedeo Modigliani: his portraits of Jeanne Hébuterne

Amedeo Modigliani: his portraits of Jeanne Hébuterne


Among the various relationships Modigliani had, the one with Jeanne Hébuterne was the most important. The woman represented the great love of his life and between 1918 and 1919 the artist from Livorno portrayed her about 20 times. 

The relationship between the two began in 1917. A year later their little daughter Jeanne was born. Shy, sweet and very beautiful, the woman inspired the artist who painted her in every way: half-bust, in profile, frontally, etc. It was during the period in which he portrayed the woman that the painter achieved his highest artistic expression. Vitality and elegance are in perfect balance.

In the paintings in which Jeanne is portrayed, the artist decided to give a different look to his beloved. The woman in Modigliani's paintings appears as a distant figure, timeless and without place. The eyes are melancholy, oval and the face is elongated, but despite being stylized works, Jeanne's figure remains recognizable. 

The woman represented the ideal of female beauty for the Italian artist; he loved her long, black hair that created a sharp contrast with her light skin, her perfect, pure and rarefied forms. 

A curiosity about some of these paintings can be seen by observing the woman's eyes: in some canvases even Jeanne's pupils have been painted. This peculiarity is due to the fact that the man had decided to start painting his beloved's eyes only when he had also known her soul.

Amedeo Modigliani and Jeanne Hébuterne: a contrasted relationship

Although the two lovers were very close, Jeanne's family never accepted the woman's choice. The members of her family always tried to oppose their relationship because they thought Amedeo was too old and because they did not even love the life the artist led. 

On the other hand, apparently, before meeting Jeanne the painter had an affair with Beatrice Hastings, a writer who initiated him into alcoholism and drugs, vices that the painter has never succeeded to give up. 

Given the difference in age between the two and his bad vices, the girl's family not only considered their relationship as scandalous, but also hid this relationship and at one point even kicked the woman out of the family house. 

Not only that, although she was also a painter, her works have never been made public, always at the will of her family. In practice, the recognition of her talent was prevented, and Jeanne was never forgiven by her loved ones for her choice of love.

Sorrowful, alone and nine months pregnant, after the death of Amedeo Modigliani, Jeanne Hébuterne, at only 22 years old, threw herself from the fifth floor of a building. It was impossible for her to live without her great love and even though she was in an interesting state, the loss she suffered was too much for her. 

This contrasted love story was also an inspiration to many singers, directors and various artists, because although it is a story that did not have a happy ending, it perfectly represents the power of love.

Article by: Aurora Caraman

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