Andre Salmon Remembers Amedeo Modigliani - An Homage on the 100th Anniversary of the Artist's Death
Amedeo Modigliani (July 12, 1884 - January 24, 1920)
On January 24, 1920, the Jewish Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani died of tubercular meningitis in the Hôpital de la Charité. His companion Jeanne Hébuterne (eight months pregnant) commited suicide by jumping out of a window at 3 a.m. on January 26, 1920. Modigliani’s funeral on January 27th, was attended by a huge crowd at Père Lachaise, including Pablo Picasso, Max Jacob, Moïse Kisling, André Salmon and his friends, who were then barred from Jeanne’s funeral by her parents. Not completely deterred, Salmon, Kisling, Modigliani’s dealer Léopold Zborowski, and their wives went to the little suburban cemetery in Bagneux to put a wreath of white flowers on her grave, after her father and brother left. In 1930 Jeanne is reburied next to Modigliani.
To learn more about Amedeo Modigliani's life and legacy, please visit the Modigliani Project's website and also click on my review of the Modigliani exhibitions in 2018, published in Bonjour Paris.
Amedeo Modigliani, Portrait of Jeanne Hébuterne, 1918
(April 6, 1898-January 26, 1920)
From Peindre [Painting] by André Salmon:
Comme on boit un coup pour se mettre en train
Tu criais un chant du PARADIS ou du PURGATOIRE
Quitte, ayant bien crié, à t’en retourner boire;
Ah! j'entendrai toujours tes cris sur leurs silences,
Martyr dont le destin commence.
Nous avons une dernière fois trinqué avec Derain,
Ton album bleu comme un cahier de ciel était si lourd!
Ton corps pliait sous tes beaux habits de velours
Quelle ombre te mordait aux reins?
Et cette forme exquise que toujours tu peignais
Intacte a suivi ton essence où vont les morts, Modigliani,
Où les morts vont enfin vivre ce que valut la somme de leurs peines.
Le Dôme de Florence se mirait dans le Seine.
In English: Translated by Sandra Smith
While having a drink to get us going
You shouted out a song from PARADISE or PURGATORY
Then done, having sung so well, you got back to drinking
Ah! I will always hear your cries amid their silences,
Martyr whose destiny is just beginning.
We clinked glasses one last time with Derain,
Your album as blue as a notebook made of sky was so heavy!
Your body bending beneath your beautiful velvet clothes
What darkness gnawed at your insides?
And that exquisite form that you always painted
Has followed your essence, intact, to where the dead go, Modigliani
Where the dead can finally live out what all their pain was worth.
The Duomo in Florence reflected in the Seine.