Amadeo Modigliani (1884-1920) was one of the many and diverse talents who were drawn to Paris in the early years of this century, making the city a vibrant but pressurized environment for artistic expression. A legend grew up around Modigliani, who, along with others, engendered the concept of the peintre maudit – the accursed painter – whose poverty, corruption and excess were the very seeds from which his remarkable works of art were conceived.
Unlike the Italian Futurists, who stormed at their own overwhelming tradition, Modigliani seemed to sense the possibility of returning to it for renewal. His interpretation of a central theme of the tradition, the reclining female nude, produced a series of uniquely beautiful works, outstanding in the grace and harmony of their linear designs and the quality of their colour. Nude, portraits and studies of a surprising range of personalities and psychological types are represented in this ideal introduction to the artist, as is a selection of his remarkable stone carvings, of which about 25 survive.