Three previously unknown sketches by the renowned Italian-born artist Amedeo Modigliani have been discovered hiding beneath another of his famous paintings.
The uncompleted works by the 20th Century artist, who worked in Paris until he died in 1920, were discovered after the canvas of ‘Nude with Hat’ was X-rayed in a forensic study of his work ahead of an exhibition in Philadelphia.
Inna Berkowits, historian of art at the museum, claimed it to be “quite an amazing discovery”. Detailing further, she added: “Through the X-rays, we are really able to make this inanimate object speak.”
Modigliani is one of the 20th Century’s finest Modernist artists. He lived in France and had a short, tumultuous life, painting nudes that were considered controversial at the time. His paintings are characterised by elongated, slender figures that he drew inspiration from the African and Greek art that arrived in France in the 19th and 20th Centuries.
Modigliani died poor at just 35. However, his painting, ‘Reclining Nude’, sold at auction in 2015 for $170m, making it one of the most expensive artworks of all time. Another of his works sold for $157m. His popularity has led to a bustling market for forgeries and fakes.
Berkowits said the ‘Nude with Hat’ work is “a sketchbook on a canvas [that highlights Modigliani’s] never-ending search for artistic expression.” She also claimed that there is no doubt that the painting is authentic.
Kenneth Wayne, director of the Modigliani project, added: “He was one of the very first multicultural artists who pulled inspiration from different sources [and sought] an air of the strange and beauty.”
An exhibition will go ahead in Philadelphia at the Barnes Foundation on October 16th. It will examine Modigliani’s methods and use of materials based on forensic studies of several of his paintings and sculptures.