Reclining Nude

Amedeo Modigliani (Italian, Livorno 1884–1920 Paris)

Oil on canvas
23 7/8 x 36 1/2 in. (60.6 x 92.7 cm)
Credit Line:
The Mr. and Mrs. Klaus G. Perls Collection, 1997
Accession Number:
  • Description

    Born to a once-prosperous Jewish merchant family in Italy, Amedeo Modigliani grew up in a cultured but financially strained environment in Livorno. A severe bout of pleurisy ended his formal schooling at age fourteen, and he was plagued by poor health for the rest of his short life; he died of tuberculosis at age thirty-five. From 1902 to 1906 Modigliani studied painting with the Italian artist Guglielmo Micheli (a proponent of plein-air painting) and visited Capri, Naples, Florence, Venice, and Rome. In 1906 he moved permanently to Paris, where he frequented artists' gatherings and became friends with other expatriate artists living in France, such as Chaim Soutine and Moïse Kisling. Modigliani was a prolific artist, producing some 420 paintings, innumerable drawings, and 31 sculptures between 1906 and 1920.

    His celebrated series of nudes continues the tradition of depictions of Venuses from the Renaissance to the nineteenth century but with one significant difference: the eroticism of the earlier figures is always couched within a mythological or anecdotal context, whereas Modigliani does away with this pretext. Consequently, his women appear unabashedly frank and provocative.

    The artist is best known for the works that he created in Paris between 1915 and 1919 — portraits, in which a few telling details achieve a striking likeness, and nudes. Modigliani began his great series of reclining women in 1916. The two dozen or so figures — never his mistresses or friends but always professional models — lie on a dark bed cover that accentuates the glow of their skin; they are seen close-up and usually from above. Their stylized bodies span the entire width of the canvas, and their hands and feet often remain outside the picture's frame. Sometimes asleep, they most often face the viewer, as does this gracefully built model in one of the artist's most famous paintings of the series.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Signed (upper right): modigliani

  • Provenance

    Leopold Zborowski, Paris (1920–26); Georges Menier, Paris (1926–probably until d. 1933); his son, Claude Menier, Paris (probably until at least 1958); [Galerie Mouradian Vallotton, Paris]; [Perls Galleries, New York, by 1960; stock no. 6254]; Mr. and Mrs. Klaus G. Perls, New York (until 1997; their gift to MMA)

  • Exhibition History

    Paris. Galerie Charpentier. "Cent tableaux de Modigliani," April–May 1958, no. 48 (as "Nu étendu," lent from a private collection).

    Marseilles. Musée Cantini. "Modigliani," June 10–July 27, 1958, not in catalogue [added to the checklist as "Nu étendu," 1917, lent from a private collection].

    New York. Perls Galleries. "Major Recent Acquisitions," January 19–March 5, 1960, unnumbered cat. (as "Nu Couché," 1918).

    New York. Perls Galleries. "Amedeo Modigliani (1884–1920)," October 29–December 7, 1963, no. 17 (as "Nu Couché," 1918, lent anonymously).

    New York. Perls Galleries. "The Nudes of Modigliani," October 11–November 12, 1966, no. 1 (as "Nu Couché," 1918, lent anonymously).

    New York. Acquavella Galleries. "Amedeo Modigliani," October 14–November 13, 1971, no. 37 (as "Nu couché," 1918, lent by Mr. and Mrs. Klaus G. Perls).

    New York. Perls Galleries. "Amedeo Modigliani," November 14–December 16, 1972, no catalogue [probably this picture; see Refs. Mellow 1972, Hancock 1973].

    Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. "Amedeo Modigliani, 1884–1920," March 26–June 28, 1981, no. 51 (as "Nu couché, les mains derrière la tête," 1917, lent by Perls Galleries, New York).

    Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. "Modigliani, an Anniversary Exhibition," December 11, 1983–April 22, 1984, unnum. brochure (as "Nude," 1918, lent by Perls Galleries, New York).

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Painters in Paris: 1895 1950," March 8, 2000–January 14, 2001, unnumbered cat. (p. 86).

    Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art. "Picasso and the School of Paris: Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," September 14–November 24, 2002, no. 34.

    Tokyo. Bunkamura Museum of Art. "Picasso and the School of Paris: Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," December 7, 2002–March 9, 2003, no. 34.

    Toronto. Art Gallery of Ontario. "Modigliani: Beyond the Myth," October 23, 2004–January 23, 2005, not in catalogue.

    Washington. The Phillips Collection. "Modigliani: Beyond the Myth," February 19–May 29, 2005, not in catalogue.

    Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. "The Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800 1920," February 4–May 6, 2007, no. 130.

    Berlin. Neue Nationalgalerie. "Französische Meisterwerke des 19. Jahrhunderts aus dem Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," June 1–October 7, 2007, unnumbered cat. (p. 259).

    Madrid. Museo Thyssen Bornemisza. "Modigliani y su tiempo," February 5–May 18, 2008, no. 109.

  • References

    O. L. "Gemälde von Modigliani." Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration 56 (July 1925), ill. p. 208.

    André Salmon. Modigliani: Sa vie et son œuvre. Paris, 1926, pl. 8.

    Giovanni Scheiwiller. Amedeo Modigliani. Milan, 1927, pl. [4] [French ed., 1928, pl. 3].

    Michel Georges-Michel. Les Montparnos: Roman. Paris, 1929, ill. p. 223.

    Arthur Pfannstiel. Modigliani. Paris, 1929, ill. opp. p. 98; catalogue présumé, pp. 20–21.

    Seigo Taguchi. Modigliani. Tokyo, 1936, pl. 9.

    Vincenzo Costantini. Architettura, scultura, pittura, contemporanea Europea in un secolo di materialismo. Milan, 1951, ill. p. 259.

    Raffaele Carrieri. Avant Garde Painting and Sculpture (1890–1955) in Italy. 2nd ed. [1st ed., 1950]. Milan, 1955, pl. 102.

    Arthur Pfannstiel. Modigliani et son œuvre. Paris, 1956, p. 98, no. 132.

    Ambrogio Ceroni. Amedeo Modigliani, peintre: Suivi des "souvenirs' de Lunia Czechowska. Milan, 1958, p. 64, no. 130, ill.

    Jeanne Modigliani. Modigliani sans légende. Paris, 1961, pl. 52.

    John Canaday. "Art: Modigliani's Nudes, a Charming Sisterhood." New York Times (October 15, 1966), ill. p. 24.

    Alfred Werner. Amedeo Modigliani. New York, [1966], fig. 52.

    Ambrogio Ceroni. I dipinti di Modigliani. Milan, 1970, p. 98, no. 199, ill. and colorpl. XXVIII XXIX [French ed., 1972].

    J[oseph]. Lanthemann. Modigliani, 1884–1920, catalogue raisonné: Sa vie, son œuvre complet, son art. Barcelona, 1970, p. 117, no. 153, ill. p. 200.

    Joseph Masheck in "New York." Artforum 10 (December 1971), pp. 84–85, ill.

    James R. Mellow. "Modigliani." New York Times (December 3, 1972), p. D21 [probably this picture].

    Marianne Hancock. "Gallery Reviews." Arts Magazine 47 (February 1973), p. 83 [probably this picture].

    Janet Hobhouse. "The World, the Flesh, and Modigliani." Connoisseur 215 (July 1985), pp. 5, 44–45, ill. (color).

    Claude Roy. Modigliani. 2nd rev. ed [1st ed., 1958]. New York, 1985, p. 156, ill. pp. 79 (color) and 103 (detail).

    Angela Ceroni. Modigliani: Les Nus. Paris, 1989, pp. 82–83, no. 24, ill. (color).

    Gaston Diehl. Modigliani. rev. ed. [1st ed., 1969]. New York, 1989, pp. 72, 78, ill. p. 92 (color).

    June Rose. Modigliani: The Pure Bohemian. London, 1990, ill., half title page (color).

    Christian Parisot. Modigliani: Catalogue raisonné. Vol. 2, Peintures, dessins, aquarelles. Ed. Giorgio and Guido Guastalla. Livorno, 1991, p. 316, no. 40/1917, ill. p. 176.

    Osvaldo Patani. Amedeo Modigliani: Catalogo generale. Vol. 1, Dipinti. Milan, 1991, p. 219, no. 208, ill. (color).

    J[ason]. E[dward]. K[aufman]. "Perls Adds Gems to the Met." Art Newspaper, no. 61 (July–August 1996), p. 14.

    Sabine Rewald in "Recent Acquisitions. A Selection: 1996–1997." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 55 (Fall 1997), p. 73, ill. (color).

    Emily Braun in Modigliani and His Models. Exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts. London, 2006, p. 63 n. 20.

    Sabine Rewald in The Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. New York, 2007, pp. 174–75, 236, no. 130, ill. (color and bw).

    Sabine Rewald in Masterpieces of European Painting, 1800–1920, in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, pp. 206–7, 277–78, no. 191, ill. (color and bw).

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. New York, 2012, p. 402, ill. (color).

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History