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A $100 Million Modigliani at Christie’s in November

September 3, 2015
Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920), ‘Nu couché (Reclining Nude)’, painted in 1917-18 Click on image to enlarge.

Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920), ‘Nu couché (Reclining Nude)’, painted in 1917-18
Click on image to enlarge.

Christie’s auction house have just announced that Modigliani’s Nu couché (Reclining Nude) (above), estimated to sell for more than $100 million, “will be the centerpiece of a special curated Evening Sale of 20th Century art focused on the theme of The Artist’s Muse,” on Monday November 9, 2015 in New York.

According to their press release:

The painting is one of a series of great female nudes made for Léopold Zboroswki that famously caused a scandal nearly a century ago when they were exhibited at Modigliani’s first and only one-man show at the Galerie Berthe Weill in Paris. Outraged by the content of this show — which caused a crowd to form outside the gallery window where one of Modigliani’s nudes was openly on display — the police demanded the immediate closure of the exhibition.

The upcoming sale this November marks the first time this portrait is appearing at auction. Estimated to exceed $100 million, the portrait is poised to break the standing world auction record of $70.7 million for any work by Modigliani, one of the greatest artists of the 20th century.

Jussi Pylkkänen, Christie’s Global President and Chief Auctioneer comments, “This is quite simply one of the most important paintings I have handled in my long career at Christie’s. There are a very small number of masterpieces that we dream of handling: this magnificent Modigliani has always been one of them. This powerful and noble female nude is a work of timeless beauty and one of the greatest works by the artist. It is a particular honour to be entrusted with the sale of this painting as my own area of expertise has always been the early 20th Century avant-garde, the paintings that shook the foundations of convention.” Mariolina Bassetti, Christie’s Chairman and International Director, Italy, added, “This is the painting that defines Modigliani”. 

Originally in the collection of Modigliani’s mentor, friend, and dealer, Léopold Zboroswki, Nu couché (Reclining Nude) has been so widely and frequently published and referred to over the past century that it has become one of the most recognized images of early 20th century painting and certainly represents one of Modigliani’s best known works. It was also previously in the celebrated collection of the late Gianni Mattioli, one of the greatest champions of Italian early 20th Century Modernism, who organized a global tour of his superb Italian Art collection in the 1960s. In the 1950s, this work toured to the Museum of Modern Art in New York where it took pride of place on the cover of the exhibition catalogue.

The painting has also been featured in major museum shows across the globe, including the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris, the Tate Gallery and the Royal Academy of Arts in London, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Palazzo Reale in Milan.

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