A painting of a sleeping, naked woman sitting in a sensuous pose. She has an elongated face and long dark hair, and her public hair is visible. She leans on a red shape on the right with a blue wall visible behind her.
Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920),  Female Nude, Around 1916 , Oil paint on canvas . The Courtauld, London (Samuel Courtauld Trust) © The Courtauld 

Female Nude

Amedeo Modigliani

This striking female nude is one of several painted by Amedeo Modigliani between 1916 and 1917. Beyond the reclining figure’s apparent gracefulness and tranquillity, the painting presents a radical reworking of the conventions of figure painting, which still retains some of its original provocation today.

Modigliani incorporated stylistic elements taken from cultures outside Europe with the Western tradition of idealised female nudes. The woman’s elongated head, for example, relates to the Egyptian, African and Oceanic sculptures he had studied at Paris’s ethnographic museum. Furthermore, the artist’s rough handling of paint differs from the highly finished, smoothed surfaces found in most Salon nudes of the period. Her flushed face, scratched-out strands of hair and the rawness of brushwork present a sexualised form of beauty that went against conventional standards. The depiction of pubic hair was also shocking at the time. Police even closed a 1917 exhibition of Modigliani’s nudes at the Berthe Weill gallery in Paris on the grounds of indecency.

See this painting in The Courtauld Gallery

Virtual tour

Watch a short film

You might also like

A Conversation

Vanessa Bell

A Conversation  is one of Vanessa Bell's major achievements, which she worked on at various points over several years....

See more collection highlights

Explore The Courtauld’s remarkable collection of paintings, prints and drawings, sculpture and decorative arts.

Two men sit across from each other at a table covered with a brown tablecloth, playing cards. Both men wear overcoats and hats, and the man on the left smokes a pipe. They sit inside a wooden building. i Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) The Card Players, around 1892-96, The Courtauld, London (Samuel Courtauld Trust)