Artworks
Paul Guillaume, New Helmsman
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ldare's picture

Sr. Editor

Amedeo Modigliani was super drunk when he painted his friend, Paul Guillaume. 

Guillaume was only 23 when Modigliani painted this but he was already a great friend of the arts. Modigliani reaffirms this in the title Novo Pilota, which we've translated to New Helmsman.

In the upper right corner Modigliani added a Star of David and the phrase ‘Stella Maris,’ Latin for ‘Star of the Sea.’ You may also notice a swastika in the lower right near the artist’s signature but at the time Nazis didn’t exist and the symbol was only a Sanskrit symbol for good omens.

The sittings for the painting happened in a relatively well-lit cellar and with a liter of wine for them to share.

Paul Guillaume was one of the biggest supporters of the Paris art scene; extra impressive considering he died when he was only 42.

Paul came from humble beginnings and earned money working in a garage. His employer received rubber for their tires from Africa and one day a tribal mask was included with their shipment. It was a revelation and Paul devoted his free time to studying African art.

Guillaume enjoyed art for the sake of art and only collected what he liked, which ended up being almost exclusively African art and helped promote his friends Henri Matisse, Constantin Brâncusi, Pablo Picasso, and Giorgio de Chirico, introduced to him by the poet Guillaume Apollinaire.

His death at such an unusual age did raise several eyebrows leading to accusations against his firecracker of a wife Domenica, born Juliette Léonie Lacaze. The case may or may not have gone away when she agreed to give her and her husband’s collection of art (now easily worth a billion dollars) to the French.