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Artwork Review: Madame Pompadour by Modigliani
Posted by Graphica on 1/11/2009 5:42:06 PM (ET)
Filed Under: General
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Occasionally Modigliani painted portrait sketches gently satirizing social pretension he observed in people on the streets of Paris. (Otherwise he rarely used an outdoor setting.) This is one of these faces, anonymous except for the name the artist gave it in jest. The subject's pose in front of a stone wall with the name (misspelled) in graffiti style suggests some incongruity between reality and her prim appearance.

Modigliani - Madame Pompadour

Oil on Canvas

Facial volume has been indicated by white highlights that contrast with the rouged frontal planes of her cheeks. A subtle touch the contour line tracing the left side of the face trails away under the chin. The demarcation between jaw and neck on the right side is suggested by a brief area of chiaroscuro (contrast of light and shadow). The faint line down the middle of the nose is continued again from upper lip to chin, emphasizing the pursed mouth.

Cubist influence still lingers, not only in the collage effect (the inclusion of writing) but also in the way both sides of the face are revealed simultaneously, despite the fact that the head is slightly turned. The nose, too, is given both in profile and frontally.

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