Modigliani’s “Alexandra Dadiani” sold at Sotheby’s auction for 26 million
20 November, 2014
Modigliani’s “Alexandra Dadiani” sold at Sotheby’s auction for 26 million
“Once, the great Modigliani invited Anna Akhmatova and Alexandra Dadiani to his studio, if a tiny mansard can be called that. In that mansard, he painted a portrait of Aleksandra. This very painting was sold for 26 million pounds years later” – claims Dr. Davit Andriadze, art expert and critic.

– Out of all Georgian artists, only Lado Gudiashvili is known to have been acqu­ainted with Amadeo Modigliani. This is what he writes in his memoirs: “I took my se
at at a vacant table. I wanted to invite Amadeo Modigliani over, but next to him sat a Polish lady who was getting her portrait painted. He offered her two portraits, but to his surprise, she refused to buy them or even accept them as gifts. ‘Your portraits look nothing like me!’ – she spat angrily and stormed away. Devastated and insulted, Amadeo turned towards me and handed me these two masterpieces, saying in a quivering voice: ‘My friend Lado, you can have these instead, as a keepsake from me.’”

– Who was Alexandra Dadiani, the Georgian woman whom Modigliani painted?

– Alexandra Dadiani was a countess and a Mingrelian princess; Modigliani painted her in 1911. She was the wife of Konrad Rost, a German botanist, and they loved each other dearly; Rolf Gross even wrote a book about them. During her stay in St. Petersburg, Alexandra got acquainted with a famous Russian poetess, Anna Akhmatova, who was in a relationship with Modigliani, although it did not last long.

– Where did Modigliani himself meet and paint Alexandra?

– In Paris. Back then Modigliani was so poor that he was forced to sell his paintings for almost nothing, barely scraping a living. He got so enamored with beauty and charm of the Count’s wife that he completely disregarded Akhmatova, known for her jealousy, and declared that he wanted to paint Alexandra. The down-and-out maestro invited Anna Akhmatova and Alexandra Dadiani to his studio, if a tiny mansard can be called that. In that mansard, he painted a portrait of Aleksandra. Nothing is known about how a married noblewoman, who was known for her arrogance agreed to pose nude for a painting. This very painting called “Nude Looking Over Her Right Shoulder” was sold for 26 million pounds years later at a Sotheby’s auction. However, future wasn’t kind to the trio: the entire world knew about the break-up between Akhmatova and Modigliani, and Alexandra was repressed after the Communist Revolution. She only managed to return to Georgia many years later, old and decrepit. The countess died in Georgia and was buried in Saguramo, homeland of Chavchavadze bloodline.

– The fact that Modigliani painted Alexandra’s portrait is a matter of great pride for any Georgian. Why isn’t this fact widely known?

– Probably because this isn’t a portrait in a classical sense, but a nude painting featuring a well-known noblewoman. It is very likely that Alexandra did not admit that she posed nude for anyone, even a famous artist, so she hid this fact from the public, especially from Georgians of that time. The same goes for Anna Akhmatova, who, despite being a rather emancipated woman and Modigliani becoming popular in the Soviet Union, never flaunted her relationship with the artist. Only after her death did their romance become public in the book Anna and Amadeo by a Russian author. Upon leaving Paris, Akhmatova wrote a poem named “Song of the Last Meeting,” which became very popular in that period. However, the poetess herself hated that poem and forbid everyone around her to even mention it.

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