Life and career

The family


Amedeo Modigliani was born in Livorno on the 6th of July, 1884, the fourth child of Eugenia Garsin and Flaminio Modigliani. The Garsins were a sephardic Jewish family, very educated and learned, of a well-off condition but with difficulty managing money. The Modiglians were a very prominent Livorno family, also Jewish, with a great talent for business. The birth of Dedo, as he was called in the family, coincides with a financial collapse: the economic failure that the Garsins were already going through, is joined by the failure of Flaminio’s enterprise.

If the father figure seems to be little present in Amedeo’s life, it will be figures of the Garsin family who will be particularly important in his education and in his future path: his mother Eugenia, his grandfather Isaac and uncle Amedeo.

Her mother, thanks to the private lessons she gave, the kindergarten and elementary school she had founded and her activity as a translator and literary critic (under a pseudonym) managed to revive the economic situation of the family, demonstrating culture and practical skills. Thanks to her mother’s lessons at home, Dedo was educated by her and grew up in a very cultured and intellectual environment. She was very close to Amedeo, he was probably her favorite and their relationship could only be strengthened during the various episodes of illness that affected him child since childhood.

Dedo also spent a lot of time with his grandfather, Isaac Garsin, a very cultured man, cosmopolitan and passionate intellectual. He was the most present male figure in the life of the young Amedeo and together they took long walks around the city, where his grandfather spoke of history, philosophy, poetry. These speeches had to make inroads in the young Amedeo, who was in fact nicknamed “the Philosopher” for his speeches full of quotes and intellectual reference.

An equally important figure, especially from an economic point of view, was his uncle Amedeo, Eugenia’s brother, who thanks to his financial successes, supported his nephew on many occasions. For example by providing the money for the health trip that Eugenia and Dedo made in 1900 in southern Italy and allowing to his grandson to be able to enroll in the Institute of Fine Arts in Venice.