Art: Cursed Painter

The boy was just 14 years old, and spindly, when typhoid fever struck him. Lying abed, in the ghetto of Leghorn, Amedeo Modigliani raved about Italy's long-dead Renaissance, and confessed to his own longing to paint. His mother heard, and promised to send him to art school.

Eight years later, when Modigliani turned up in Paris, he was still not much of an artist, and it was already obvious that his time was short. His lungs were bad. A black-eyed, elegant young fellow, he kept to himself, painted furiously, and destroyed most of it as...

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