Alberto Giacometti’s Portrait of James Lord

Giacometti’s portrait flashes with intensity and vitality, the summation of his painting, and is offered in the Artist's Muse sale on 9 November in New York

The Portrait of James Lord, painted in 1964, marks the near final state of one side of his art, his great late work on canvas, and is a fitting culmination to his work in two dimensions. Here is the point where Giacometti ended up, the sum of all that he had done before, or more precisely, of all that he wished to preserve. It is a record of the very moment he decided he could add no more to, nor take anything away from, this particular canvas on which he had been working.

The result of this intense exchange between Giacometti and James Lord, the artist and his sitter, is a superb head whose eyes flash the penetrating gaze of a Byzantine icon, a seated figure that displays the assertive presence of an Egyptian pharaoh, and a lambent corona of silvery grey paint that projects the aura of a Christ en gloire, en majesté.

The portrait of James Lord that Giacometti painted in 1964 is among the best known of his works on canvas, having been widely exhibited. Lord himself wrote a book dedicated entirely to the creation of this picture, A Giacometti Portrait, which The Museum of Modern Art, New York, published in 1965. For more on Alberto Giacometti’s portraits, read our interview with the curator of Giacometti: Pure Presence, currently showing at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

To learn more about the Artist’s Muse curated sale, please visit

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