Gaston Longchamp: An American in Paris

Today’s 19th & 20th Century Prints & Drawings auction features Amedeo Modigliani’s Gaston Longchamp, a circa 1914 pencil drawing that was once in the collection of Gaston Longchamp himself.


Amedeo Modigliani, Gaston Longchamp, pencil, circa 1914. Estimate
$30,000 to $50,000.
Painter Gaston Longchamp (circa 1894-1896) was born in the United States to a Cayuga-Iroquois father and French mother. Haunted by the 1890 Sioux massacre at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, Longchamp’s father, an artist, moved his family to Paris in the early 1900s. Gaston became an apprentice in his father’s studio and, by the early 1910s, was ensconced among the Parisian avant-garde scene–he assisted Picasso with his set designs for the Russian Ballet in 1911 and contributed to Chagall’s designs for Stravinsky’s Firebird

According to two hand-written letters by Longchamp from 1965 that accompany the lot, Modigliani presented him with this drawing in early 1914 at the Café de la Rotonde–a popular hangout for Parisian artists–in what was then the center of the avant garde in Montparnasse. Max Jacob was present at the time, Longchamp recalls. He later gifted the drawing to Renee Friedman, who, he laments in his letters, decided to ultimately sell the work. Longchamp Pennsylvania, where he died in relative obscurity in 1896.