painted numerous women over the course of his career. They were friends, partners, friends’ wives, bistrot acquaintances, lovers, and admirers. Their names—Louise, Jeanne, Lolotte, Margherita, Elvire, Renée—are those of models, ladies, workers, and fellow artists. Other times, their identities remain unknown, as is the case for Nu Couché (Reclining Nude)
, a painting executed in 1917-18, which will be offered at Christie’s New York on November 9th and estimated to exceed $100 million. It’s an odd destiny for a truly bohemian artist who lived an unregulated life of hardship and died prematurely at age 35. His works did not sell well during his lifetime, and Modigliani himself had no interest in the market. When, in 1917, a series of female nudes, among which may have been Nu Couché
, was exhibited at the Galerie Berthe Weill in Paris, the public reaction to these too-sensuous figures was so strong that the police forced the closure of the show. Scandals often increase art prices, but why is this particular work so coveted by collectors that it is expected to break the current Modigliani world auction record of $70.7 million paid for Tête
(1911-1912), a rare limestone sculpture sold at Sotheby’s in 2014?