Modigliani painted this--one of ten portraits he did of this sitter--one year before his death and three years after he'd met the lovely Lunia Czechowska (1895-after 1970). The Polish woman and her husband, Casimir, were old friends of Modigliani's patron/dealer Leopold Zborowski. Despite the facts that Lunia was very much married in 1916 and "Modi" would shortly become involved with Jeanne Hébuterne, or that the two women became so friendly that one took care of the other's out-of-wedlock daughter, only his death caused the artist to cease attempting to seduce Lunia.
Here he shows his firm friend posed gracefully, her seated body in its yellow dress forming lithe curves against the scarlet background. Later in life, Czechowska vividly recalled sitting for Modi as he drank cheap brandy, sang, lapsed into Italian and, eventually, fell so far into the act of painting that he became oblivious to the presence of another human being. And then, there she was on canvas, left with " ... the impression of having the soul laid bare and of being in the strange position of being able to do nothing to disguise her feelings." In hindsight, it all sounds rather more seductive than a physical seduction.
About the Theft:
Five paintings were stolen from the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris shortly after 3:45 a.m. on Thursday, May 20, 2010. The single thief, who gained access by breaking a window, went undetected as he or she cut Matisse, Braque, Picasso, Modigliani and Léger canvases from their frames and left with them. Reports of the total value of the paintings have been exaggerated in some accounts (the Modigliani and Léger works were not major), though collectively they are easily worth over $200 million (US).
All five were immediately entered into International stolen art databases, and INTERPOL is circulating the following images. Needless to say, anyone with information on the paintings' whereabouts is asked to contact INTERPOL.