Amedeo Modigliani’s painting from a famous series “Reclining Nude (Nu couché)” will become a centrepiece of Christie’s New York Evening Sale of 20th Century Art that will be held on 9 November under the theme “The Artist’s Muse.” The price for this masterpiece created in 1917 – 1918 by one of the brightest representatives of the Expressionism Art movement is expected to reach $100 million. Moreover, it is the first time this painting will appear at public auction! If the “Reclining Nude” is sold at the estimated price, it will become the most expensive work by Modigliani ever gone under the hammer. Now the world auction record belongs to the artist’s sculpture titled “Head (Tête)” that was sold for $70.7 million at Sotheby’s New York last year.
This portrait is one of the series of celebrated female nudes painted by Modigliani for Leopold Zborowski, his art dealer, mentor, and friend. The author was inspired by Italian Renaissance representations of Venus, as well as by idealized female figures from other periods of the art history. However, unlike his predecessors who had used allegorical or mythological attributes to hide the nakedness, Amedeo Modigliani depicted his female nudes without any references focusing on the eroticism of the body. As a result, the paintings from this series caused a scandal in 1917 in Paris, when the first and the only one solo exhibition of Modigliani was held at the Galerie Berthe Weill. The show was officially closed by police on its opening day because of the indignant crowd gathered around the building. However, it continued thereafter, most likely after the removal of notorious Modigliani’s paintings from the gallery’s streetfront window.
The “Reclining Nude,” which is going to be sold this fall, is one of the most prominent paintings of the 20th century and one of the most known works by Modigliani. In 1960, it was a real “star” of the world tour organized by Gianni Mattioli famous for his celebrated collection of Italian art. Furthermore, the painting was exhibited at the world-famous galleries including the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA), the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Palazzo Reale in Milan, as well as the Royal Academy of Arts and the Tate Gallery in London. In this way, this noble and powerful female nude is a sensational work of timeless beauty and definitely one of the greatest works ever created by Amedeo Modigliani.
“The Artist’s Muse” auction will open the sales week devoted to major works of the 20th century that belong to the contemporary, impressionist, post-war, and modern art. By the way, a similar auction held in May 2015 saw a record number of visitors. Thereby, we look forward to the same wonderful atmosphere this coming season too!