The Story Behind The Painting
Jeanne Hebuterne – Wife and Muse of Amedeo Modigliani.
‘Doted companion to the extreme sacrifice’
Jeanne Hebuterne, an artist in her own right, studied at Ecole des Arts Decoratifs Art College in Paris. She found her new surroundings stimulating and exciting and was soon seduced by the lively Montparnasse artists’ community. It was not long before Jeanne, with her blue eyes and dark hair, began modelling for several artists. It was in this way she met the passionate and fascinating Modigliani. They fell deeply in love and Jeanne moved in with him, living as his common law wife. When her parents found out about the relationship between their daughter and such a famous artist of ill repute, they were shocked! Jeanne was Catholic from a bourgeois French family, and not only was Modigliani Jewish, he was fourteen years older, someone whom they regarded as a lecherous drunk. Their daughter, however, was hopelessly in love and stayed by his side until his death.
In 1919, Modigliani and Jeanne had a child. Modigliani always intended to marry Jeanne but the wedding never took place. Jeanne fell pregnant again, but by this time Modigliani’s health was deteriorating. On January 24th, 1920, Modigliani died of tubercular meningitis aged thirty-five. Jeanne was overwhelmed with grief. Although taken to her parents’ home, only a couple of days after his demise, she threw herself from their fifth-floor window, killing herself and her unborn child. She was twenty-one.
Jeanne had been open about her wish to be buried beside Modigliani, but her parents refused, burying her in a cemetery outside Paris. Not until 1930, ten years later, did her parents allow her remains to be taken from the Cimetiere Parisien de Bagneux to rest beside Modigliani in Pere-Lachaise.