Léon Indenbaum, 1916

Amedeo Modigliani, Italian, 1884–1920

Léon Indenbaum, 1916

Oil on canvas
The Henry and Rose Pearlman Foundation, on long-term loan to the Princeton University Art Museum
photo: Bruce M. White

A few days after Pearlman purchased Modigliani’s portrait of the Russian sculptor Léon Indenbaum, he had the good fortune to meet the sitter, who was then nearly sixty. Delighted to see the work again, Indenbaum shared with Pearlman the story of its creation, including the detail that Modigliani had painted it over a still-life by another artist. Henry Pearlman remembered:

One night, Modigliani, while rather drunk, saw Indenbaum at a café and said he would like to paint his portrait, if Indenbaum would furnish a canvas and an easel to work on. The following morning, Modigliani arrived, spruced up and ready to get to work. Indenbaum had various canvases of paintings by contemporary artists at his atelier . . . After turning down several of these canvases because he thought the paintings were too good to spoil, Modigliani found a still-life that he thought could be sacrificed.

X-radiograph of <em>Léon Indenbaum</e>, showing that the portrait was painted over an Indenbaum still life