Modigliani greatly admired the works of Cézanne and this portrait reproduces the pose of certain drinkers and smokers painted by the latter. Modigliani focuses here on the relationships between the figure and its environment. The young man is seated, pensive, his head resting on one hand. The chair and table appear to merge with his body and relieve its heaviness.
Modigliani was not only a painter but a sculptor as well. The highly stylised forms, like those of the hand resting on the leg, are reminiscent of his sculptures. The palette of the canvas is very soft, with varying shades of greys and browns, only ruffled by the collar of the white shirt and the intense blue of the eyes. The thin, young and smooth face of the model contrasts with his coarse hands. In this painting, the motifs are outlined with curved contours and the forms are flattened, which also reveals the influence of Gauguin's art.
Modigliani spent several months in the Midi region of Southern France in 1918 and 1919 to improve his ill health. The trip was paid for by his art dealer Léopold Zborowski. During this period he produced a series of portraits of young red-headed men, farmers, apprentices and workers, although it is not clear whether the same model is portrayed in each.
Provenance: Léopold Zborowski, Paris; Paul Guillaume (1929); Domenica Walter