Der Lehrling

The Young Apprentice, ca. 1917

Modigliani's biography seems to possess all the requisites that a fin de siècle novelist might ask of an artist: born in Livorno, after apprenticeship with a late Macchiaiolo painter he moved to Paris for a brief fiery career. Beautiful and passionate, unlucky and destructive, his real life soon became practically indistinguishable from legend.

Attracted by African and aboriginal sculpture he turned, like his friend the Rumanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi, in the direction explored by André Derain, toward a synthesis between European art, particularly that of 14th century Central Italy, and non-European art. The muted palette distinctive of his compositions, his preference for complementary tonalities, blue-purple and red-orange or ochre, and the slightly caricatured inclination of his figures reveal his unceasing admiration for Cézanne.

The motif of a seated youth recurs frequently during the last years of Modigliani's life, with different subjects and different colour solutions. The pose of The Young Apprentice is reminiscent of Cézanne.