Leon Indenbaum

Leon Indenbaum

photo: Bruce M. White
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About This Work

Amedeo Modigliani (Italian, 1884–1920)
Leon Indenbaum, 1916
Oil on canvas
54.6 x 45.7 cm. (21 1/2 x 18 in.)
Signed lower right: Modigliani


Acquired from the artist by Léon Indenbaum (1890–1981), Paris, 1916; [sold to Georges Chéron (d. 1931), Paris, ca. 1916]. Sold at auction, Hôtel Drouot, 1 July 1937, lot 151. [Victor Raykis, Galerie Zak, Paris]; sold to Henry Pearlman, by 1949; Henry and Rose Pearlman Foundation, after 1974.

Critical Perspective

Born in Vilnius and educated in Ukrainian art schools, the sculptor Leon Indenbaum (1890-1980) came to Paris in 1911 and probably met Modigliani in the artistic circles of Montparnasse. Both men had studios at various times between 1911 and 1919 in the Cité Falguière, a cul-de-sac off Rue Falguière, named after the nineteenth-century painter and sculptor. Indenbaum would be nearly forgotten today were it not for impressive portraits of him by his friends Modigliani and the Mexican painter Diego Rivera. 

According to the Russian sculptor Léon Indenbaum, Modigliani asked to paint his portrait and inquired whether he had painting materials at his apartment. Modigliani painted diligently during three sittings and, despite Indenbaum’s offer to pay, insisted that the portrait was a gift. An inscribed name is included, as on other portraits of Modigliani’s friends who were artists and dealers, suggesting that this was part of a series intended as repayment for material help and friendship. Modigliani’s portraits were also a means of immortalizing the foreigners who, like himself, came to Montparnasse to share in the heady enterprise of creating a new, modernist art.

X-Ray taken on Aug 19, 2011 shows an underlying abstract design unrelated to the portrait of Indenbaum.