A portrait has been discovered beneath one of Modigliani’s paintings, indicating the famous artist had painted over one of his works. The portrait is beneath another famous portrait by Modigliani, the portrait of a girl from 1917. The picture is kept at the Tate Gallery in London.
The identity of the person in the famous portrait is unknown, but researchers believe the hidden one depicts Modigliani’s former lover and muse, writer Beatrice Hastings. Hastings and Modigliani had a passionate relationship which lasted two years, until 1916. According to Nancy Ireson, Tate’s curator of international art, this is just a hypothesis which is quite plausible. After all, Modigliani and Hastings had a passionate relationship with saved references describing epic fights and extended substance abuse by both of them.
The painting was studied with x-radiography and other techniques as part of a preparation for the exhibition on Modigliani at Tate Modern. The research project was carried out with the participation of museums and art historians from many countries.
During the technical research study, with the use of x-rays researchers found the hidden portrait which is almost a full-length figure. Modigliani has been copied widely and last year an exhibition with his works at the Palazzo Ducale, Genoa, closed early after 21 of about 60 of his works exhibited were claimed to be fakes. Such incidents along with a lack of technical research into his accepted work have led to the need for the project. The initial findings of the study will be published this week in Burlington Magazine. The project aims not only at defining authentic Modigliani paintings, but also at promoting a better understanding of the artist’s practice, with tests on pigments and canvasses.