Amedeo Modigliani met Paul Guillaume through the poet Max Jacob (1876-1944) in 1914. Paul Guillaume was then just starting out as an art dealer, and he rented a studio for Modigliani in Montmartre. In 1915 and 1916 Modigliani produced four portraits of his patron. The portrait in the Musée de l’Orangerie was painted at the home of the artist’s mistress, the British poet, Beatrice Hastings (1879-1943), who also lived in Montmartre.
Paul Guillaume, aged just 23, is shown as an elegant young man, sure of himself, looking directly at the viewer. His figure stands out against the red background. His dark suit and hat contrast with his face and his white shirt. The planar rendering of the face and his well-defined features attract the eye, while his left hand is barely sketched.
In this portrait Modigliani pays tribute to the young art dealer who was already regarded as the "new helmsman", like a sailor or one of the wise men guided by a star, a patron and visionary supporter of modern art in the years after 1910.
Provenance: Paul Guillaume, Domenica Walter