Amedeo Modigliani - born in Livorno

The Modigliani's reconstruction of life about his two trips in Livorno after the Parisian period, was very controversial - as we shall see - until 1993. When Jeanne Modigliani went to Livorno to interview the 'friends' of her father in the hope of recover useful information to include in her book "Modigliani, Man and Myth", a publication whose main purpose was to free the father's life from the myth and the legend, she founded only contradictory informations.
In addition to the unreliable testimonies of the 'Modigliani's friends', Jeanne did not find from her family any letter, nothing document and no work placeable in the last trip of her father in Livorno, so as to quote in her book, without any conviction, the most probable date of 1912, as suggested by Ida (wife of Umberto) and Vera Modigliani (wife of Emanuele).

The "Modigliani's friends" of the Caffè Bardi claimed that the episode of 'the heads thrown into the Livorno canals' took place during the war (between 1915-16), and in any case not in the first artist trip in 1909 despite the fact that the photographer Bruno Miniati (1889- 1974) claimed he never saw Modigliani in Livorno after 1909.

The only document that Jeanne was able to recover from her family, was a letter dated on July 3, 1909 written by her grandmother Eugenia, the mother of the artist, to Vera Modigliani to reassure her about Dedo's health and to inform her that he came back to Livorno, and as the only work related in this first trip after Paris, the painting known as "The beggar of Livorno" dated August 1, 1909.

The document that could have shed light on the life of the artist in his two returns to Livorno, would have been the family diary, which it is not interrupted in 1910 as reported in various publications, but continues even after the death of Modigliani. This diary was written by the mother of the artist, Eugenia Garsin, by her sister Laura, by her daughter Margherita and in two places by the young Amedeo, but it is silent during the two stays in Livorno after Paris.

In 1993 was set up an exhibition on Modigliani at Palazzo Grassi in Venice in which over 400 drawings from the Paul Alexandre collection have been exposed for the first time. Together with these works, also several letters and postcards unknown until that time, that they turned out foundamental to shed light on the Modigliani's trips in his home town.

Concerning the first trip in Livorno in 1909, thanks to this exhibition and the related catalog "Modigliani Inconnu", we have learnt of the existence of a letter by Modigliani on September 5, 1909 sent to his friend Paul Alexandre in which, in addition to announce his imminent return to Paris, there's a phrase which surprising in particular: "I did some work", since in Paris he will bring with him only the "Beggar of Livorno" and a drawing also exhibited for the first time in the same Venetian exhibition. Another unknown document was published in the Venice catalog. This is a letter dated on May 28, 1909 sent by Jean Alexandre to his brother Paul with which he informed him about what was happening in Paris and in the "circle of the Delta" during his absence, mentioning also Modigliani ready to go back to Livorno to his family. Thanks to these documents, we can place with certainty the artist's stay in Livorno in 1909 during the months of July, August and September, without excluding the possibility that he may have arrived already in June.

Thanks to the Venice exhibition we have also certainty about the last Livornese stay of the artist occurred in 1913, in fact two other inedit letters were made public: the first from Livorno, the other from Lucca, and nine postcards six of which were sent from Livorno, one from Pietrasanta and another two from  Versilia. These documents allow us to place this last short stay of 1913 between April 15 (date of the first postcard from Livorno) to June 13 since in this last letter Modigliani announced to his friend P. Alexandre his imminent return to Paris.

Following the correspondence of these abovementioned documents, we understand with certainty that Modigliani spent a few days in Livorno (from April 15 to the end of the month) and about a month nearby of Versilia (from May to June). Reading the first letter written from Livorno, one understands the purpose that Modigliani had conferred on this last trip to Italy, he wrote in fact to his friend Paul Alexandre "I will make everything in marble". And something he certainly sculpted, since in the letter written on headed paper "Del Chiaro Giulio" of Viareggio were mentioned two pieces of marble that had to get in Paris, but never arrived.

For that reason, in about 15 days spent in Livorno in 1913, Modigliani could never had the necessary time to sculpt more stone blocks (Razzaguta spoke of heads) works that he, discouraged by the judgments of his fellow citizen artists (!) would had throw into the canals of Livorno, to go then in Versilia to sculpt the marble! Extremely far-fetched! 

Until 1993 we were not aware of these documents, so we could not even know precisely the year when Modigliani come back to Livorno for the last time, but it was already well known at the time that the artist, for health reasons, will not sculpt beyond '13, and that between 1912-13 he carved one of his last masterpieces, the head exposed to the Tate of London. This is to say that if "the architects of the miraculous fishing" of 1984 they had been searching for those heads that Modigliani would throw in the so-called “Fossi Medicei” after 1909 (it would have been an obligatory choice for what is report on this page), the murky waters they should have returned of the true masterpieces and not three daubs like those recovered during the famous 1984 hoax. The question is: can we are really sure the "1984 hoax" wasn't been, instead, a fraud attempt? Find out by reading the following pages ..

If on the one hand the legend of the heads thrown into the ditches of Livorno finally collapses with the Venice exhibition in 1993, with regard to the story handed down by Piero Carboni - as we will see later - we have really convincing historical-artistic evidence.

Maurizio Bellandi