Femme Assise, c. 1909
Stamp with collector Dr. Paul Alexandre's mark '18.6' lower right
Graphite on paper
16 3/4 x 10 1/2 in, 42.6 x 26.7 cm
'Femme Assise’ is amongst the earliest recognised drawings by Amedeo Modigliani He created the work at the very beginning of his career, just three years after moving to Paris from...
'Femme Assise’ is amongst the earliest recognised drawings by Amedeo Modigliani He created the work at the very beginning of his career, just three years after moving to Paris from his hometown of Livorno, Italy. Modigliani was known to be constantly drawing from life, be it people he met on the street, in his studio, or in cafes and bars. The human - particularly female - body is a crucial to Modigliani’s oeuvre, with the present work being an early example of his characteristic highly stylised approach.
During this period Modigliani began his first furor into sculpture, devoting himself to the medium from 1910-1913. Modigliani was influenced by Brancusi, having become his friend and neighbour after moving to Cité Falguiére in Montparnasse. Both artists were determined to create their own visual languages, experimenting with volume and depicting the essence of something using the simplest possible means. Modigliani transferred this sentiment to his drawings. In ‘Femme Assise’ the sharp outline of the body offset against the cross hatching, a technique he used in multiple drawings of the period, displays Modigliani giving his drawing the three dimensionality of a sculpture.
In 1909 Modigliani also began to study African, Egyptian and Oceanic sculpture in the Louvre, filling sketchbooks with his studies of masks and caryatids. Not alone in this pursuit, it became a trend amongst artists in early 20th century Paris, such as his friend Picasso, to turn to African sculpture. ‘Femme Assise’ displays the simplification and grace of the ancient sculptures Modigliani observed. The woman’s elongated face is mask-like, but in the typical Modigliani way, she is not without character.
‘Femme Assise’ was first owned by Modigliani’s close friend and patron Dr. Paul Alexandre whom he met in 1908. Alexandre had a legendary collection of Modigliani’s drawings, not only for its size and breadth, but that it comprised of some of his earliest works from 1905-1914. Modigliani also created multiple portraits of his friend. ‘Femme Assise’ was later in the collections of renowned Italian director Ugo Tognazzi and the author of Marino Marini’s catalogue raisonné Guido Guastalla.
Dr. Paul Alexandre
Galleria del Milione
Christie's, Rome, 13 May 1991
Ada Colombo (acquired from the above)
Guido Guastalla, Rome (by at least 6 October 1995)
Connaught Brown, London
Private Collection, Madrid (acquired from the above 21 October 1995)
Ambrogio Ceroni, Amedeo Modigliani:
Dessins et Sculptures, Edizioni del Milione, Milan, 1965, no.13, p.28, illus.
Christian Parisot, Modigliani: Catalogue
Raisonné dessins aquarelles, Vol I
, Editions Graphis Arte, 1990, pp.230 and
339, no.7/09, illus.
This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from Archives Legales Amedeo Modigliani signed by Christian Parisot and dated 18 October 1995