Woman with Fan

Posted on January 18, 2013

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Among the references of older Bond films and the 50th anniversary in “Skyfall“, one of my favourites is the painting shown by Severeine in the Shanghai skyscraper offering the ill-fated Asian businessman “Woman with fan” seconds before he gets a Patrice bullet in the head. The Shanghai Art Collector was played by Dave Wong.
Woman with Fan” is a 1919 work by painter and sculptor Amedeo Modigliani. The painting was stolen in a heist involving four other masterpieces from Musée d’Art Moderne de la ville de Paris (the Museum of Modern Art in Paris), in May 2010. Experts believe that the paintings have ended up in China.

The Bond reference in this is naturally the stolen Duke of Wellington portrait by Francisco Goya that Bond finds in the Crab Key lair of Doctor No in the very first Bond movie of 1962, 50 years prior. (More on that particular painting as well as the Dr No Syndrome later on.)Woman with fan 1919Amedeo Clemente Modigliani (1884-1920) was born in Livorno, Italy and could be considered your archetype of Paris-based artists of that time. He wasn’t very successful when alive, although very productive. He had some provocative nudes included in the 1917 Paris show, causing some moral panic. (The Police actually had to close the exhibit on the first day.) He was addicted both to alcohol and narcotics, and lived in poverty in the area of Montparnasse in Paris, known for its many resident artists. In 1920 he died of tubercular meningitis aged 35. As if that wasn’t tragic enough his love, the then pregnant Jeanne Hébuterne in despair threw herself out from a fifth-floor window in her parents’ home killing both herself and her unborn child. They had another child, a daughter Jeanne who was adopted by Modigliani’s sister. The daughter later in life wrote a biography of the father.

Woman with fan” is one out of ten portaits of his model Lunia Czechowska, painted in 1919, one year before his death.

The works of Amedeo Modigliani is now sold for millions of Euro, Dollars and Pounds Sterling. The record for a Modigliani painting is $68.9 (november 2010) and the price for later sold works has been between 35 and 40 million US Dollars. Not bad for an artist who used to swap painting for meals in the 1910’s Paris.

There as been a lot of articles and posts online (1) recently about the art of “Skyfall” and “007 Under the Mango Tree” is no exception.
Click here for more on the art of “Skyfall”.

“Modigliani” is also a track on the “Skyfall” soundtrack, written by Thomas Newman. It is the ninth track on the album and clocks 1 min 4 seconds.

BBC reported on the Art Heist of Paris, 2010
“Amedeo Modigliani was the fifth artist to be targeted by the thieves.
They chose a work he painted in 1919, Woman with Fan.
He died a year later at the age of 35, having contracted tuberculosis.
Modigliani’s portrait of his friend shows him using restrained colours out of respect for her and using “S” shapes to accentuate her graceful pose.
As Matisse used colour to express his feelings for his subject, so Modigliani used distortion.
Both fit within the expressionist movement inspired by the work of Vincent Van Gogh.”

In a Twitter conversation between “007 Under the Mango Tree” and the Paris Museum of Modern Art (MAM) in January 2013, the museum stated:
Unfortunately we don’t have any information to communicate about this masterpiece stolen at the museum in 2010

Update:
This Modigliani painting was also featured in the Sean Connery heist flick “Entrapment” (1999) and was depicted in his character Mac’s house. At the time of filming the Modigliani painting was assumingly still in the possession of said Paris museum.
Is the “Woman with Fan” in “Skyfall”, in fact a Sean Connery reference?

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Posted in: Skyfall