Amedeo Modigliani 1884-1920
N04723 Portrait of a Girl
Inscribed 'Modigliani' t.r.
Oil on canvas, 31 3/4 x 23 1/2 (81 x 60)
Bequeathed by C. Frank Stoop 1933
Prov: With Léopold Zborowski, Paris; James N. Rosenberg, New York, 1921 or 1922; with New Gallery, New York, 1922; with Paul Reinhardt, New York; with Paul Guillaume, Paris; through Bignou, Paris; with Reid and Lefevre, Glasgow and London, 1927; C. Frank Stoop, London, 1928
Exh: Paintings by Derain, Modigliani, Matisse and Others, New Gallery, New York, November-December 1922 (no catalogue traced) as 'Tête de Femme'; Modern Italian Art, Grand Central Art Galleries, New York, January-February 1926 (70, repr.) as 'Portrait', lent by Paul Reinhardt; Paintings by Modigliani, Lefevre Galleries, London, March 1929 (2) as 'Mademoiselle Victoria'; Modern Italian Art, Tate Gallery, June-July 1950 (not in catalogue)
Lit: Henry McBride, 'Modigliani' in Arts, III, 1923, p.53, repr. p.54 as 'Portrait'; Arthur Pfannstiel, Modigliani (Paris 1929), appendix p.21, repr. facing p.104 (dated 1917); Arthur Pfannstiel, Modigliani et son Oeuvre (Paris 1956), No.136, p.99 (dated 1917); James N. Rosenberg, Painter's Self-Portrait (New York 1958), pp.54-8; Ambrogio Ceroni, Amedeo Modigliani: Dessins et Sculptures (Milan 1965), No.178, p.43, repr. pl.178 as 'Jeune Femme (Victoria)' 1917; J. Lanthemann, Modigliani 1884-1920: Catalogue Raisonné (Barcelona 1970), No.170, p.119, repr. p.205 as 'Jeune Femme, dite "Victoria"' 1916; Leone Piccioni and Ambrogio Ceroni, I Dipinti di Modigliani (Milan 1970), No.118, p.93 and repr. (dated 1916)
In the catalogue of the exhibition at the Lefevre Gallery in 1929, this picture was entitled 'Mademoiselle Victoria', but as all the earlier references to it that have been traced call it simply 'Portrait' or 'Head of a Woman', the identity of the sitter remains uncertain. The painter Moise Kisling, who knew Modigliani, told Mrs N. Huffman that he thought the sitter was an English girl and that this picture was painted as a commission, but the fact that it was in the hands of Modigliani's dealer and agent Léopold Zborowski in 1921 or 1922 would seem to suggest that it was not a commissioned portrait. Joseph Lanthemann, who points out that the same girl appears in another portrait, No.169 in his catalogue, thinks it is more likely that she was just a professional model. Though it has sometimes been dated 1916, it appears to be slightly later in style than the signed and dated portraits of that year, and therefore to have been painted either at the very end of 1916 or, more probably, in 1917.
James N. Rosenberg bought it and a half dozen or more other paintings by Modigliani and about the same number of drawings of caryatids from Zborowski in Paris in 1921 or 1922. He intended to keep them as a private collection, but an old uncle, named Max Naumberg, persuaded him to create the New Gallery so that he would have something to do. All the works by Modigliani were turned over to the New Gallery at the original cost. The oils were apparently the first paintings by Modigliani to have been seen in the USA.
What appears to be a preliminary drawing for this portrait, on cardboard and partly in pastel and gouache, is reproduced in the catalogue of the Modigliani exhibition at the Centraal Museum, Utrecht, in 1968, p.25.
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.528-9, reproduced p.528