(1884 – 1920)
Epstein met Modigliani in 1912 when he was in Paris erecting Oscar Wilde’s tomb. Modigliani was a young Italian painter and sculptor from a middle-class French-Italian Jewish family. He had arrived as a student from the Tuscan port of Livorno in 1906 and subsisted on a small allowance from home, living and working in impoverished conditions. Epstein saw Modigliani every day for a period of six months, and they looked unsuccessfully for a studio they could share together.Epstein remembered Modigliani as ‘charming and witty in conversation, without any affectations’ and full of ‘geniality and esprit’, but prone to harangue violently people he regarded as pretentious or foolish. He involved himself in turbulent and sometimes violent relationships with women, drank heavily, and used hashish and probably opium in large amounts.
At the time of Epstein’s stay in Paris, Modigliani had almost totally ceased painting to concentrate on sculpture and a closely associated series of drawings.
He then abandoned sculpture altogether in 1914, perhaps because of his increasingly poor health, perhaps due to a lack of materials in wartime Paris.
One of Modigliani’s caryatid drawings can be seen in The New Art Gallery Walsall.