Amedeo Modigliani

Dr François Brabander, 1918
Dr François Brabander

Oil on canvas
46 x 38 cm

Franciszek Brabander was born in Krakow in 1887. He studied medicine in Paris around 1910, where he married the sister of Anna Zborowska, the wife of Amedeo Modigliani’s dealer Leopold Zborowski. Brabander volunteered as a doctor during World War One, and visited the Zborowskis in Nice while on leave in 1918. There, Modigliani painted him in his military jacket. Following the war, he qualified as a doctor and was granted French citizenship.

Brabander lived happily in Paris with his wife and two children until Germany invaded France in 1940. Three years later, having joined the Resistance, he and his family were arrested by the Nazis. His son Romuald survived the war, but his wife and daughter were murdered soon after arriving at Auschwitz. Brabander himself was initially deported to Sachsenhausen, where he worked as a doctor, but was moved to Bergen-Belsen in April 1945, where he perished the following month. His grave lies next to those of his sister- and brother-in-law in Père-Lachaise Cemetery.

Modigliani’s portrait is the only known painted memorial to this compassionate and brave man.

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