Portrait of a bearded man
Chinese ink and brush on paper
Bequeathed by Lillian Browse, 2005, received 2006
Born in Livorno, Modigliani studied in Florence and Venice before moving to Paris in 1906. In autumn 1907 he met Dr Paul Alexandre (1881-1968), who became his first patron and was a close friend until 1914. During these years Modigliani absorbed a variety of influences as he established his distinctive elongated figure style in painting and sculpture. The blue chalk inscription on this drawing records Modigliani's friendly dedication to 'Kohler', who has not been identified but may have been related to Madame Alexandre Kohler whom Gauguin painted in 1887-88. Six other drawings of the same sitter are known, five of them in Dr Alexandre's collection, thought to date from 1910. The technique is the same as in the portrait of Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957), also in the Alexandre collection, which dates from 1909, when Modigliani was introduced to Brancusi by Alexandre. The influence of the older artist was evident in other ways during this period, particularly on the sculptures that Modigliani began to make in 1909.