Amedeo Clemente Modigliani (July 12, 1884 – January 24, 1920) was an Italian artist of Jewish heritage, practising both painting and sculpture, who pursued his career for the most part in France. Modigliani was born in Livorno (historically referred to in English as Leghorn), in northwestern Italy and began his artistic studies in Italy before moving to Paris in 1906. Influenced by the artists in his circle of friends and associates, by a range of genres and art movements, and by primitive art, Modigliani's œuvre was nonetheless unique and idiosyncratic. He died in Paris of tubercular meningitis, exacerbated by poverty, overworking, and an excessive use of alcohol and narcotics, at the age of 35.
Amedeo Modigliani was born at Livorno, in Tuscany. Livorno was still a relatively new city, by Italian standards, in the late 19th century. The Livorno that Modigliani knew was a bustling centre of commerce focused upon seafaring and shipwrighting, but its cultural history lay in being a refuge for those persecuted for their religion. His maternal great-great-grandfather was one Solomon Garsin, a Jew who had immigrated to Livorno in the eighteenth century as a religious refugee.
Modigliani was the fourth child of Flaminio Modigliani and his wife, Eugenia Garsin. His father was in the money-changing business, but when the business went bankrupt, the family lived in dire poverty. In fact, Amedeo's birth saved the family from certain ruin, as, according to an ancient law, creditors could not seize the bed of a pregnant woman or a mother with a newborn child. When bailiffs entered the family home, just as Eugenia went into labour, the family protected their most valuable assets by piling them on top of the expectant mother.