Unlike many of Modigliai’s paintings that represent the nude female form, this painting seems to express the innocence of childhood. There is a formality to the stance and appearance of the girl that is likely to be reflective of the time it was painted.
It is difficult to analyse the expression on the girl’s face, it is certainly somewhat sombre, but by no means unfriendly. It is perhaps best described as dignified, maybe influenced by cultural etiquette or merely borne out of the uncomfortableness and boredom associated with the arduous task of posing for a portrait.
The girl is smartly dressed and gives the appearance of being prosperous. She is positioned in the corner of a room and her shadow is cast along one side of the wall. Her blue dress is accompanied by a white lace collar and black footwear.
Whilst Modigliani was associated with the expressionist painting movement he is known for not conforming to the rules of the movement. The general composition may be expressionist with the inspiration coming from the artist’s imagination, yet the shape of the girls head is reminiscent of the Art Nouveau style of painting.
The painting displays one of the artist’s distinctive traits in the fact the eyes are “almond” in shape and the head is slightly elongated, which again adds to the sullen expression on the child’s face.
This is typical of the “expressionist” in that the picture represents the artist’s interpretation of the girl rather than just providing what could be considered a photographic representation of the subject.
Whilst this is a portrait of a child it is interesting to consider whether the painter was emotionally influenced by the birth of his first daughter in the same year the picture was produced.
Modigliani, although well respected at the time only found true fame after death, however the “Little Girl in Blue” is a marvellous reminder of his ability as an artist and the portrait seems to embody life and the concept of youthful innocence.