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Head of a Woman

Amedeo Modigliani, Italian, 1884 - 1920
Though widely recognized for his painted portraits of women with elongated features, Modigliani equally considered himself to be a sculptor of the first rank. He created around two dozen stone sculptures between 1909 and 1915, utilizing the direct carving techniques he had learned in Paris from the Romanian-born sculptor Constantin Brancusi. This bust of a woman's head displays a stylized, modern interpretation of non-Western art--especially Cycladic and Egyptian statuary--also referenced in the artist's oil compositions. Modigliani found sculpture to be a prohibitively expensive and physically demanding process, which explains why he did not produce more three-dimensional works in his short lifetime....

Object Details
With Paul Guillaume, Paris; sold to Maurice J. Speiser (1880-1948), Philadelphia and New York, 1925, until 1944 [1]; Speiser sale, Parke-Bernet, New York, January 26-27, 1944, lot no. 85 (illus.); sold to Philip C. Boyer (dealer), New York [2]. Martha Glazer Speiser (Mrs. Maurice J. Speiser) (d. 1968), Philadelphia, after 1944 to 1950 [3]; gift to PMA, 1950. 1. According to a note on the registrar file card, the sculpture was purchased from Paul Guillaume in 1925. Speiser is listed as the owner in Maud Dale, Modigliani, New York, 1929. On Speiser and his wife Martha see R. Sturgis Ingersoll, Henry McCarter, Cambridge, MA, 1944, p. 73.2. Art Digest, February 15, 1944, p. 22, lists the sculpture as having been bought by dealer Philip C. Boyer, owner of a New York gallery.3. Mrs. Speiser had apparently reacquired the work or merely had it on consignment to Boyer, as she donated it to the PMA in 1950.

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