In 1915, having given up sculpture, Modigliani returned to painting, although not without difficulty. He was finding his way and experimenting with various styles and techniques. Red-Haired Girl is one of a series of portraits, in which he adopts a very free Cubist interpretation. The model is depicted against a geometric background, possibly a display of paintings, given structure with horizontal and vertical lines. The portrait is painted in various shades of brown, also similar to the Cubist palette.
The composition plays on slight shifts and faint changes of angle that enliven the rigid forms and the hieratic depiction of the face, portrayed frontally. The slight tilt of the head towards the right is counterbalanced by the slope down to the left of the horizontal lines in the background and the vertical on the left. The geometric background contrasts with the oval face with its curved eyebrows and wavy hair. The light, coming from the left, creates some depth, breaking with the painting’s overall linearity.
The stylisation of the face, the treatment of the red hair with wavy lines, the simplification of the volumes all come from his experiments in sculpture and from the series of Cariatides [Caryatids].
Provenance: Paul Guillaume; Domenica Walter