Unknown Modigliani painting surfaces in Serbia

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BELGRADE, Sep 26 (Reuters) A previously unknown painting by the early 20th century Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani will be displayed in November in the Serbian capital, Belgrade, experts said today.

The ''Portrait of a man'', dating from around 1918, is owned by an unnamed Serbian collector and is authentic, said Christian Parisot, president of the Modigliani Institut Archives Legales Paris-Rome.

''It took us 17 years to verify the authenticity and I can now say for certain that it is Modigliani,'' Parisot said.

The canvas, which measures 46 x 38 cm (18 x 15 inches), shows a neatly dressed, wealthy young man with carefully combed hair. Experts said the oil colours had been watered, a sign that the artist was not rich at the time of the work.

''The identity of the model is still unknown, but we are hoping that somebody will recognize it, once the painting is presented,'' Parisot added.

Belgrade city hall official Dragana Zeljkovic said the owner specifically asked for the painting to be shown for the first time in Belgrade. It would be some time in late November.

Modigliani (1884-1920) worked for most of his career in France. He was a distinguished member of the so called Paris school of avant garde artists.

Famed for his portraits of women and nudes, he developed his own unique style, both in sculpture and painting, with elongated necks and faces with empty eyes. He rarely painted males.

Modigliani's portrait of little known Russian sculptor Oscar Miestchaninoff is valued at 25 million dollars and will be put on sale at Christie's in November.

Reuters KK VP0425

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