Amedeo Modigliani died a broken man. His art, especially the sculptures, have endured.
Amedeo Modigliani was born in Livorno, Italy in 1884. He began to study painting at age 14 and displayed immense talent. In 1906, Modigliani moved to Paris, which was the avant-garde center of Europe at that time. There, amid some of the brightest lights of the artistic community, he began to develop his own unique style, as seen in the sculptures and portraits he created during this period. However, throughout his life, Modigliani was plagued by poor health, made worse by his often self-destructive habits. In 1920, he died in Paris at the age of 35.
About the Barnes Foundation
Born into a working-class family in Philadelphia, Albert Coombs Barnes (1872–1951) showed his intelligence and drive early on. He was accepted to the prestigious Central High School, graduated from medical school at the University of Pennsylvania, and went on to study chemistry in Germany. He made his fortune by co-inventing the silver-based antiseptic Argyrol with his German colleague Hermann Hille.
In 1908, he established the A. C. Barnes Company, in Philadelphia, which he continued to run until 1929. A progressive employer, Dr. Barnes organized his workers' day to include a two-hour seminar in which they would discuss the writings of philosophers like William James and John Dewey, and examine original works of art.
It was Dr. Barnes’s interest in art that led him to renew his friendship with an old high-school classmate, the artist William Glackens. In 1912, he sent Glackens to Paris to scout the galleries for modern paintings. The artist bought more than 30 works on Barnes’s behalf, including Van Gogh’s The Postman and Picasso’s Young Woman Holding a Cigarette.
This was the beginning of Dr. Barnes's soon-to-be-legendary collection. Later, relying on his own eye, he amassed a treasure trove of impressionist, post-impressionist, and early modern paintings, as well as old master works, Native American fine crafts, and early American furniture and decorative art. He was also an early and influential collector of African sculpture.
In 1922, Dr. Barnes and his wife, Laura Leggett Barnes, purchased a 12-acre arboretum in Merion, Pennsylvania. He hired noted French architect Paul Cret to design a residence and gallery on the grounds. This would become the first home of the Barnes Foundation, an educational institution dedicated to promoting an appreciation of fine art and horticulture.
Today, the Barnes Foundation continues to honor and build on Dr. Barnes's educational legacy. In 2012, the Barnes moved to its current home in Philadelphia, a state-of-the-art building designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects | Partners.
(from the Barnes Foundation)