Alberto Giacometti (1901 - 1966)

La mère de l’artiste (recto) - Sans titre (verso, dans le sens inverse)

The Artist’s Mother (recto) - Untitled (verso, upside down)
    Pencil on paper
42 × 30.5 cm
Signatures and Inscriptions
Signed and dated ΄Alberto Giacometti / 1946΄ (on the recto, lower right)

Galerie Claude Bernard, Paris

Galerie Alice Pauli, Lausanne

Private collection, since 1984


Chicago, Chicago Art Fair, Galerie Alice Pauli, Drawings and Watercolours, 19 – 24 May 1883, no. 26

Lausanne, Galerie Alice Pauli, Balthus, Giacometti, Bonnard: Dessins de collections, 17 May – 14 July 1984, no. 14, ill.

Andros, Museum of Contemporary Art-Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation, Alberto Giacometti: sculptures-peintures-dessins, 28 June – 6 September 1992, no. 29, ill. p. 78

Andros, Museum of Contemporary Art-Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation, Glancing at the Century, 28 June – 20 September 1998, pp. 100-103, ill. p. 103

Current location
Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation, Athens
Floor 2nd
Tour Guide Code
Audio Guide

Annetta Stampa, wife of the painter Giovanni Giacometti, had never concealed her fondness for her eldest son, Alberto, who even looked more like her. She was one of his first models and continued to pose for him during her lifetime. Alberto repaid her love with dedication and diligence. Every year, no matter the tasks he had to fulfil, he was leaving Paris to visit his family home in Stampa, Switzerland. The numerous portraits of his mother provide us today with a unique opportunity to follow the evolution of his style while, at the same time, they are a clear witness, full of affection, for their special relationship.

Following the World War II, Giacometti abandoned the cubist influences for the sake of a drawing deprived of any kind of confection and focused solely on the essential. The portrait The Artist’s Mother dates back to that period; at first glance it looks very simple, almost plain. Rapid strokes mark the background and the model’s bust, whose posture, with arms crossed, imposes an impression of detachment on the viewer. But when we look at the face, we realize the magnitude of the invisible work that makes up the characteristics of this mature woman, giving her both a distant and proud expression. And then we admire it, because what initially seem to be repeated smudges, not only did they hide an extremely complex geometric structure, but also much more realism than any photograph or naturalistic drawing. The fact that Giacometti chose to express himself through a pencil and not a brush does not diminish the power of this portrait, which cannot be considered a preparatory work for a painting. Indeed, no oil painting of that period repeats the same composition. Thus, we are dealing with a work in its own, like Cézanne’s watercolours.



Alberto Giacometti
(1901 - 1966)
First Name
Last Name
Stampa, Graubünden, Switzerland, 1901
Chur, Switzerland, 1966