132 years ago, Amedeo Modigliani, one of the geniuses of modern art, was born. He is known for portraits and nudes in a modern style, characterized by elongation of faces and figures, that was not received well during his lifetime but that later found acceptance.
In 1906 Modigliani moved to Paris. Within a year he transformed himself from a dapper academician artist into a sort of prince of vagabonds. At the same time, his escalating intake of drugs and alcohol may have been the method by which Modigliani masked his tuberculosis from his acquaintances, few of whom knew of his condition. Tuberculosis - the leading cause of death in France by 1900 - was highly communicable, there was no cure, and those who had it were feared, ostracized, and pitied. Modigliani thrived on camaraderie and would not let himself be isolated as an invalid. He used drink and drugs as palliatives: easing his physical pain; helping him to maintain a façade of vitality; and, allowing him to continue to create his art.
Modigliani's use of drink and drugs intensified from about 1914 onward. After years of remission and recurrence, this was the period during which the symptoms of his tuberculosis worsened, signaling that the disease had reached an advanced stage. He died in 1920, at the age od 35.
Another tragic story is connected to this one: Modgiliani had a lover - the beautiful and young Jeanne Hébuterne. Jeanne threw herself out of the fifth-floor apartment window the day after Modigliani's death - killing herself and her unborn child. Her family, who blamed her demise on Modigliani, interred her in the Cimetière de Bagneux. Nearly ten years later the Hébuterne family finally relented and allowed her remains to be transferred to Père Lachaise Cemetery to rest beside Modigliani. Her epitaph reads: "Devoted companion to the extreme sacrifice."