“Fifty years of painting and drawing!” He more recently picked up some formal technique by taking classes with Andrew Rose at the Art School. “Andrew suggested I study Modigliani,” says Escat, and he did. Which probably has some bearing on why he selected the artist’s Seated Nude in the Antiquity and the Body Gallery when we asked him to share his favorite work from the collection.
“The Modigliani nude is one of my favorites for the simple fact that he painted all his nudes objectively and they were not people he knew,” explains Escat. “His portraits were people that were usually acquaintances, friends, romantic relationships, but the nudes were painted primarily for the sake of art. Because at the time they were painted, there was a movement in Paris to stop painting traditional nudes because, I think it was the Futurists, were saying ‘It’s been done, it’s boring.’ And Modigliani, for only about 10 years, took on the challenge of painting the nude for the pure sense of painting.”
When asked what about this particular nude reels him in, he says without hesitation: “The tilt of the head and expression is pretty captivating. Whoever this young lady is, is in the middle of some kind of thought, but we don’t know what. It’s very…candid, I guess would be a good way of describing the painting. You’re looking at her in the thought process.”
Escat isn’t the only museum staffer who has a soft spot for the Modigliani—here’s what collections director Cynthia Low had to say about the painting.
Amedeo Modigliani (Italian, 1884-1920)
Seated Nude, 1918
Oil on canvas
Gift of Mrs. Carter Galt, 1960