The Comité Giacometti has confirmed the authenticity of this work, which will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of Alberto Giacometti currently being prepared by the Alberto & Annette Giacometti Foundation.
This work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné being prepared by the Association Alberto and Annette Giacometti and Mary Lisa Palmer.
Alberto Giacometti executed this intimately composed self-portrait in ink whilst still at boarding school at Schiers near Chur, one year before he went to the École des Beaux-Arts in Geneva. At only 17 years of age the budding artist clearly displays a precocious talent and an enviable grasp of form and line. The eldest of five children, Giacometti grew up in an artistic milieu, posing for and studying under his father Giovanni, a celebrated Post-Impressionist painter. Alberto would initially emulate his father's style and his subjects, focusing on the world around him and forging his own personal style primarily through portraiture.
By 1918, he had developed an intensity and immediacy to his work and had already discovered his preference and expertise for frontal portraiture. Following in the art historical tradition of the self-portrait, the present work is an engaging image of the artist as a young man. Whether it was created as a test of his technique or as a study of his physical appearance, the drawing cannot help but reveal an aspect of the Giacometti's persona. Using the interior framing device he had learnt from his father and that would become a fixed feature in his future drawings and paintings, Giacometti captures his reflection in a mirror, wide eyed and mouth agape as if he had been startled from his work. A similar, though comparatively impassive frontal self-portrait in ink from the same date is housed in the Öffentliche Kunstsammlung Basel, revealing a determined and inquisitive mind on the path of self-discovery.
(fig. 1) Alberto Giacometti in 1922.