With its collections of ancient, modern and contemporary art, the Musée de Grenoble offers you a chance to traverse the history of western painting from the 13th to the 20th centuries. Included are major masterpieces of classical Flemish, Dutch, Italian and Spanish painting; one of 20th century Europe’s richest collections; and all the great post-1945 contemporary art trends, right up to the most recent artworks of the 2000s.
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Between 1909 and 1913, under the influence of Brancusi and African Art, which he discovered simultaneously, Modigliani focused on sculpture. During the First World War, he returned to painting, produced commissioned portraits and portraits of friends, and also started work on a series of nudes.
This portrait is of Lunia Czekowska, a young Polish refugee in Paris, whom Modigliani got to know in 1916 through his dealer, Léopold Zborowski. Lunia later recounted how the artist needed to get to know his models in order to paint them, and grasp their character in order to commit it to canvas. The analysis which Modigliani made of Lunia is brought out by the attitude, expression and clothing he gave her, but above all by line and colour. The typical craft of the painter can be read in this portrait made in one sitting, with certainty and mastery. The almost perfectly oval face, the opaque eyes, the long and supple neck, and the extremely simple hair style all tally with the model for whom Modigliani had a soft spot. The clear area of the face, slightly inclined, acts as a counterpart to that of the hands delicately laid on her knees. These areas of light, added to the whiteness of the collar and the cloth, stand out wonderfully against the dark background of the dress, the wall, and the few objects furnishing the room. In this extremely spare décor, no detail or prop disturbs the peaceful vision of this woman who seems absent, and withdrawn in some sort of meditation.
Woman with a White Collar, 1917
© Musée de Grenoble