Linda Lappin

award-winning writer and writing teacher

A visit to Jeanne and Modi in Rue de la Grande Chaumiere

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Rue de la Grande Chaumiere 8. Studio where Jeanne and Modigliani lived with their baby daughter, Jeanne (Giovanna) Modigliani

Discover the Paris of Jeanne and Modi with
Michael Barker

This Paris-based British architect and writer conducts private tours of the secret haunts of bohemian Paris for small groups and individuals. Visit art studios of great masters and little-known museums, drink and dine at legendary cafes, immerse yourself in the authentic atmosphere of "retro" Paris while discovering its history and myths, and rubbing shoulders with its illustrious and notorious ghosts. Combining a scholar's knowledge of the city with a lively presentation style, Mr. Barker is an ideal tour leader for those seeking something more than guidebooks can offer.
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www.memorablecitytours.com




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NOVELS
A New Mystery Novel Set in Bomarzo published in 2013 by Caravel Books, an Imprint of Pleasure Boat Studio
Runner up in Fiction, New York Book Festival, 2010 "Haunted... vivid... entrancing"... Kirkus Reviews Click here to read reviews, watch videos, and download the free Readers' Guide for Book Groups. The revised edition is now on KINDLE
Katherine's Wish "A dazzling bit of fictional sorcery" David Lynn, editor Kenyon Review A new novel about the lives of Katherine Mansfield and her circle Gold Medal Winner in Historical Fiction, IPPY Awards
Writing Women's Lives
Essay on the life of the artist, Jeanne Hebuterne, wife of Modigliani
An essay about Katherine Mansfield

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Missing Person in Montparnasse:
The Case of Jeanne Hebuterne



Jeanne Hebuterne in one of the dresses she designed for herself

An elusive figure inhabits the sundrenched rooms of Modigliani's Montparnasse studio in Rue de la Grande Chaumiere. She sits quietly in a corner, sketching, paces the corridor with a heavy step, waits at the window, looking down at skeletal trees in an empty courtyard. From Modigliani's many portraits of her, we recognize the otherworldly gaze, the coppery hair coiled like a geisha's, the unflattering hint of double chin. It is Jeanne Hebuterne, Modigliani's last mistress, only friend, and the mother of his daughter, Jeanne Modigliani.

Until October 2000, when her artwork was featured in a major Modigliani exhibition in Venice at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, not much was known about Jeanne Hebuterne, except for the tragic story of her suicide in 1920. She was a promising young artist, fourteen years Modigliani's junior. Much too early in their love affair, Jeanne became pregnant with their first child. She was approaching the end of her second pregnancy when, destitute, abandoned by all but Jeanne, Modigliani died of tubercular meningitis on January 24, 1920. Unable to face life without him, she walked backwards out a Paris window twenty-four hours later, and at the age of twenty-one, exited a world she had but little known.

In the years that followed, Jeanne Hebuterne's papers were scattered, her artworks and possessions secretly guarded by her brother, Andre Hebuterne. Surviving family members and friends would not collaborate with biographers and scholars who later attempted to piece together the facts of Jeanne's relationship with Modigliani and to define her place in Montparnasse.

In 1984, Jeanne's daughter, Jeanne Modigliani, entrusted to the French art critic, Christian Parisot, previously unknown materials documenting
Modigliani's relationship with Jeanne Hebuterne and Hebuterne's activities as an artist. She posed one condition concerning future publication. The true story of Jeanne Hebuterne was to be kept secret until the year 2000. In October 2000, the last veil was lifted when sixty drawings and a half-dozen paintings by this heretofore unknown artist were viewed for the first time at the Modigliani exhibition in Venice...

The essay from which this excerpt was taken
first appeared in the Summer 2003
issue of The Literary Review and was nominated
for a Pushcart Prize