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Modiglianis human subjects invariably have almond-shaped eyes with long, slightly twisted noses, small pursed mouths, and elongated necks. The majority of his works are semi-formal portraits that radiate a somewhat sculptural quality, suggesting his early roots as a sculptor. Amedeo Modigliani was an Italian Sephardic Jew, born in the port town of Livorno on the northwestern coast of Tuscany on July 12, 1884. He died young, just on the verge of discovery as an artistic genius, on January 24, 1920, in a Parisian garret. Modigliani sold few paintings and drawings in his lifetime, more often giving them away in exchange for a meal or as a token of friendship. Modiglianis reputation for drinking and drug excesses earned him the nickname Modi, which was not just a shortening of his name, but also a pun on the French word maudit meaning cursed. Honored at his death by the presence of his artist peers - including Léger, Derain, Brancusi, and even Picasso - his tombstone reads, Struck down by Death at the moment of glory. The romance, passion, and tragedy of his life was echoed after his death by the suicide of his pregnant 22-year-old paramour Jeanne Hébuterne. She orphaned their 14-month-old daughter.

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