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Property from a Prominent Private Collection

Beatrice Hastings (devant une porte)

Beatrice Hastings (devant une porte)
signed and dated 'Modigliani 1915' (upper right)
oil on canvas
32 x 18 1/4 in. (81.3 x 46.4 cm.)
Painted in 1915
Marcel Bernheim, Paris (by 1922).
Baixeras collection, Paris (by 1926, until at least 1929).
Stefa and Leon Brillouin, New York (possibly acquired from the above, by 1942).
M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York (acquired from the above, 25 January 1955).
Louis and Gladys Ritter, Scarsdale (acquired from the above, 1 June 1955); sale, Sotheby’s, New York, 25 October 1972, lot 36.
Private collection, Japan (by the late 1970s, then by descent); sale, Christie’s, New York, 6 November 2002, lot 35.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
The Little Review, autumn-winter 1923-1924, p. 79 (illustrated).
A. Salmon, Modigliani: Sa vie et son oeuvre, Paris, 1926 (illustrated, pl. 21; titled Femme au chapeau and dated 1918).
Kunst und Künstler, vol. 28, no. 9, June 1930, p. 393 (illustrated).
A. Pfannstiel, L'art et la vie: Modigliani, Paris, 1929, pp. 6-7 (illustrated, p. 15; titled Femme au pendentif).
J. Lipchitz, Amedeo Modigliani, New York, 1954 (illustrated, pl. 31).
J.T. Soby, Modigliani: Paintings, Drawings, Sculptures, New York, 1954, p. 27 (illustrated).
A. Pfannstiel, Modigliani et son oeuvre: Etude critique et catalogue raisonné, Paris, 1956, p. 67, no. 39.
A. Ceroni, Amedeo Modigliani peintre, suivi des "Souvenirs" de Lunia Czechowska, Milan, 1958, p. 47 (illustrated, pl. 45).
A. Salmon, Modigliani: A Memoir, New York, 1961, pp. 32 and 216 (illustrated in color, opposite p. 32).
A. Werner, Amedeo Modigliani, Milan, 1966, p. 92 (illustrated in color, p. 93).
A. Werner, Amedeo Modigliani, Milan, 1967, p. 84.
C. Geza, Modigliani, Budapest, 1969, pl. 18.
A. Ceroni and L. Piccioni, I dipinti di Modigliani, Milan, 1970, p. 113, no. 81 (illustrated in color, pl. IX; illustrated again, p. 91).
J. Lanthemann, Modigliani: Catalogue raisonné, sa vie, son œuvre complet, son art, Barcelona, 1970, p. 113, no. 83 (illustrated, p. 181).
J. Carswell, Lives and Letters: A.R. Orage, Beatrice Hastings, Katherine Mansfield, John Middleton Murry, S.S. Koteliansky, 1906-1957, London, 1978, p. 121, note 2.
C. Mann, Modigliani, London, 1980, p. 212, no . 76 (illustrated in color, p. 111).
C. Roy, Modigliani, Paris, 1985, p. 65.
A. Werner, Amedeo Modigliani, New York, 1985, p. 68 (illustrated, p. 69).
T. Castieau-Barrielle, Modigliani, Paris, 1987, p. 125.
C. Parisot, Modigliani: Catalogue Raisonné, Livorno, 1991, vol. II, p. 282, no. 20/1915 (illustrated, p. 80).
O. Patani, Amedeo Modigliani: Catalogo generale dipinti, Milan, 1991, p. 107, no. 83 (illustrated in color).
D. Krystof, Amedeo Modigliani: The Poetry of Seeing, Cologne, 2006, p. 54 (illustrated in color, p. 55).
P. Hook, Art of the Extreme: 1905-1914, London, 2021, p. 138, no. 43 (illustrated in color; dated '1914').
Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune et Cie., Modigliani, February 1922, no. 15.
Providence, Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art, French Art of the 19th and 20th Centuries, November 1942, no. 42.
New York, American British Art Center, Amedeo Modigliani, November-December 1944.
Cleveland Museum of Art and New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Amedeo Modigliani, January-June 1951, pp. 28 and 51 (illustrated, p. 51; titled Beatrice Hastings [Femme au pendentif]).
Palm Beach, Society of the Four Arts and University of Miami, Lowe Gallery, Amedeo Modigliani, January-February 1954, no. 15.
New York, Fine Arts Associates, Paintings From The Ritter Foundation, October 1959, no. 9 (illustrated).
Arts Club of Chicago; Milwaukee Art Center and Cincinnati Art Museum, Contemporary Arts Center, Amedeo Modigliani, January-May 1959, no. 4 (illustrated).
Atlanta Art Association Galleries, The Art of Modigliani: Loan Exhibition from Museums, Collectors and Dealers, March-April 1960, no. 3 (illustrated).
Boston, Museum of Fine Arts and Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Modigliani, Paintings and Drawings, January-April 1961, pp. 17 and 33, no. 5 (illustrated in color).
New York, Perls Galleries, Amedeo Modigliani, October-December 1963, no. 7 (illustrated).
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Collects: Paintings, Watercolors and Sculpture from Private Collections, summer 1968, p. 15, no. 108.
New York, Acquavella Galleries, Inc., Amedeo Modigliani, October-November 1971, no. 8 (illustrated).
New York, The Brooklyn Museum, 1971-1972 (on extended loan).
Kyoto, Municipal Museum of Art, Exhibition of Treasured Masterpieces of the 19th Century Painting, September-October 1973.
New York, The Jewish Museum; Toronto, The Art Gallery of Ontario and Washington, D.C., The Phillips Collection, Modigliani, Beyond the Myth, May 2004-May 2005, p. 129, no. 9 (illustrated, pl. 44).
London, Royal Academy of Arts, Modigliani and his Models, July-October 2006, p. 84, no. 9 (illustrated, p. 85).

Brought to you by

Vanessa Fusco
Vanessa Fusco Head of Department, Impressionist & Modern Art, New York

Lot Essay

The avant-garde painter Amedeo Modigliani first arrived in Paris in 1906. Within the bohemian community of Montparnasse, he soon developed a reputation for painting evocative portraits of his broader social network. As the art critic and dealer Adolphe Basler noted, “Just about every Montparnassian had his portrait drawn or painted by Modigliani” (quoted in M. Secrest, Modigliani: A Life, New York, 2011, p. 209). Modigliani’s oeuvre included the likenesses of fellow artists from the School of Paris, who shared his interest in reinventing the formal language of the human figure; Jean Cocteau, Juan Gris, Pablo Picasso and Chaïm Soutine were among his subjects. Yet Modigliani’s most iconic images were dedicated to his female lovers—notably his first muse, Beatrice Hastings, the so-called poétesse anglaise.
Hastings, a British writer and poet who had been raised in South Africa, was five years older than Modigliani. The artist painted her at least fourteen times throughout the course of their erotic and creative collaboration, between 1914 and 1916. Beatrice, in turn, wrote extensively about their tumultuous romance, publishing her work in the British press. In Beatrice Hastings (devant une porte), painted in 1915, Modigliani depicted Beatrice at bust-length. Indeed, the volatile passion between artist and his lover directly informed his representation of her; in the words of the sculptor Jacques Lipchitz, “His own art was an art of personal feeling…he could not permit abstraction to interfere with feeling, to get between him and his subjects. And that is why his portraits are such remarkable characterizations” (quoted in Modigliani and the Artists of Montparnasse, exh. cat., Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, 2002, p. 16).
Several other portraits of Beatrice Hastings are now preserved in museum collections—namely, the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia (1915; Ceroni, no. 110), the Art Gallery of Ontario (1915; Ceroni, no. 79) and the Art Institute of Chicago (1916; Ceroni, no. 57). In each of these works, as in the present painting, Modigliani conveyed a different aspect of Beatrice’s mercurial personal character—even if he deviated substantially from her physical likeness. As Kathleen Brunner described, “The model’s stylized, sculptural head and features, as well as her coloring and demeanor, diverged wildly from her actual appearance. She is by turns elegant and comical, somber, bright and fresh-faced, vulnerable and hard” (Modigliani and his Models, exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2006, p. 150). This multiplicity of moods was apparently something that the artist and his lover had in common; Beatrice once succinctly described Modigliani as “a complex character: a swine and a pearl” (quoted in P. Sichel, Modigliani, London, 1967, p. 270).
In Beatrice Hastings (devant une porte), however, the subject appears particularly confident. Unlike in many of her other portraits, Beatrice here effuses warmth and grace, gazing directly at the viewer with almond-shaped, chocolate-colored eyes. Her ovular face is flushed pink and the bow of her small, plump lips kissed with crimson. As in several other portraits of Beatrice, Modigliani here depicted his lover wearing a stylish hat—in this case, a black cap accented with a gray and white plume, set atop wavy tendrils of chestnut-brown hair, which Beatrice wore cropped in the 1910s.
The overall composition of Beatrice Hastings (devant une porte) is a characteristically muted and restrained one, comprised almost entirely of black and brown. Rather than color, the painter chose to emphasize, exaggerate and elongate the lines and shapes of Beatrice’s face, neck and body—as if “glimpsing his mistress through the neck of an absinthe bottle” (C. Douglas, quoted in M. Secrest, op. cit., 2011, p. 230). Art historian Tamar Garb has written that “the body, in Modigliani’s portraits, is invariably an accretion of parts…a series of conjoined fragments, separated by lines and combined and recombined to constitute the figure in representation” (“Making and Masking: Modigliani and the Problematic of Portraiture” in Modigliani, Beyond the Myth, exh. cat., The Jewish Museum, New York, 2004, p. 45). The contours that define Beatrice’s brows, nose and chin in the present work are indeed so radically simplified and sharply incised, it is as if they were carved in relief.
The sculptural quality of Beatrice Hastings (devant une porte) may be explicitly connected to Modigliani’s own experiments in stone earlier in his career. Motivated in part by his meeting with the Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi in 1909, Modigliani worked almost exclusively with sculpture between 1910 and 1913, yielding a number of anonymous female heads and caryatids. Thereafter, however, Modigliani returned to painting with a vengeance, producing over 250 canvases between 1913 to early 1920. This period constituted the most productive period of Modigliani’s short career—despite the ongoing threat of violence and the shortages of both material and commissions that coincided with the First World War. The artist’s ongoing poor health, exacerbated by his abuse of various substances, may also have spurred his return to the less physically demanding medium of oil paint.
Modigliani’s sculptural practice, as well as his related preparatory studies on paper, profoundly influenced his subsequent paintings, including Beatrice Hastings (devant une porte). According to Simonetta Fraquelli, “The attenuated forms and stylized features of the stone pieces and the flat, linear style of the drawings were to form the basis of the artist’s mature pictorial language, their hieratic simplicity and severe equilibrium resurfacing in his later paintings” (“A Personal Universe: Modigliani’s Portraits and Figure Paintings,” in exh. cat., op. cit., 2006, p. 33).
The “hieratic”—or highly stylized—aspect of Modigliani’s portraiture may further be traced to a wide range of art historical sources. Modigliani, a cosmopolitan polyglot, was equally inspired by two- and three-dimensional forms, from prehistory through the twentieth century. He was undoubtedly fascinated by the sculpture of antiquity, namely Ancient Egypt and Classical Greece; yet he was equally moved by the “primitive” wooden African masks imported by his friend, the art dealer Paul Guillaume. Modigliani was also clearly influenced by the distorted figures of sixteenth-century Italian Mannerist painting, as well as Picasso’s contemporary experiments in abstracting the human body through Analytical Cubism. Modigliani's portraits, such as Beatrice Hastings (devant une porte), represent an utterly novel, modern synthesis of these seemingly disparate styles.
Despite his bold innovations within the genre of portraiture, Modigliani died, obscure and destitute, from tuberculous meningitis in 1920; he was thirty-five years old. In the immediate aftermath of his death, however, the demand for Modigliani’s work increased dramatically. The posthumous surge in prices for his art was made all the more ironic by the penury that had plagued him while he lived. Indeed, the tragic “mythology” that surrounded Modigliani was only enhanced by his legendary beauty and debauchery—and the fact that he was followed to the grave by his heartbroken pregnant lover (and the mother of his only living daughter), the twenty-one-year-old painter Jeanne Hébuterne. His former lover Beatrice would also take her own life during the Second World War, some twenty-three-years later. It seems no accident that Modigliani’s nickname, “Modi,” is a homophone of maudit, the French word for “cursed.”
Beatrice Hastings (devant une porte) was acquired by the art dealer Marcel Bernheim, of the eponymous Parisian firm Galerie Bernheim Jeune, in the melee that followed Modigliani’s death. The work was included, for example, in the Galerie’s posthumous exhibition in February 1922. By 1926, the work had entered the collection of the Baixeras family, the little-known patrons of the Parisian avant-garde, which included several paintings and drawings by Modigliani and Soutine. Stefa and Leon Brillouin acquired a number of Modigliani works from Baixeras in the first half of the twentieth century. They lent Beatrice Hastings (devant une porte) to several post-war shows in America, including a monographic exhibition organized by The Museum of Modern Art and Cleveland Museum of Art in 1951—introducing new audiences to the life and work of this singular artist.
In addition to its fascinating early provenance, this work possesses an exceptional exhibition history. Since its execution, this work has been featured in the most important shows dedicated to the artist across Europe, Asia, and the United States. Most recently, the work was lent to the groundbreaking exhibition Modigliani: Beyond the Myth, which traveled from The Jewish Museum of New York to the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto and to the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. from May 2004 to May 2005. The following year, the work appeared in an exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London devoted to Modigliani’s most famous models, including Beatrice Hastings.

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