Modigliani's portrait of Jeanne Hebuterne could top $40m at Sotheby's

Amedeo Modigliani's portrait of his lover Jeanne Hebuterne will be among the highlights of a Sotheby's art sale in London later this month.

Regarded as one of his finest portraits, the 1919 work will be offered at auction for the first time in 30 years, and is expected to sell for more than $40m.

Modigliani
A portrait from a tragic love story

Modigliani met art student Hebuterne in 1917, and she became his constant companion and artistic inspiration. His portraits of her perfectly combine the influence of old master artworks with the angular avant-garde, resulting in many of the finest paintings of his career.

However, their relationship ended in sadness when Modigliani was struck down with tubercular meningitis and died in January 1920. Soon after, the heavily-pregnant Hebuterne took her own life, unable to live without her lover.

Today the couple are remembered together by a single tombstone in the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris. His epitaph reads "Struck down by Death at the moment of glory", and hers "Devoted companion to the extreme sacrifice".

"The pioneering Modern style with which Amedeo Modigliani sensuously depicted the female form is inextricably bound with his lover and muse Jeanne Hebuterne," said Helena Newman, global co-head of Sotheby's impressionist and modern art department.

"This painting is one of the most alluring portraits that Modigliani painted of her and the finest to come to the market in a decade."

In 2013, another Modigliani portrait of Hebuterne, 'Jeanne Hebuterne (Au chapeau)', also painted in 1919, sold at Christie's for $41.4m.

It was followed in November 2015 by the sale of Nu Couche (Reclining Nude), which sold to Chinese billionaire Liu Yiqian and his wife, Wang Wei, for a stunning $170.4m - the second-highest price ever paid for any artwork at auction.

The Sotheby's Impressionist & Modern Art Evening sale takes place in London on June 21.

View Paul Fraser Collectibles' superb selection of art and art collectibles for sale.

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