Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening

New York

Alberto Giacometti
1901 - 1966

Inscribed with the signature Alberto Giacometti, stamped with the foundry mark Susse Fres Paris Cire Perdue and numbered 4/6

Bronze, brown and green patina
Height: 32 1/4 in.
82 cm

Conceived and cast in 1958 in an edition of 6.

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Mrs. Marion Davidson, New York (acquired circa 1960)

Anita Friedman Fine Arts Ltd., New York (acquired from the above)

Acquired from the above on September 25, 1991



Giacometti (exhibition catalogue), World House Galleries, New York, 1960, illustration of another cast

Jacques Dupin, Alberto Giacometti, Paris, 1962, illustration of the plaster p. 285

Alberto Giacometti (exhibition catalogue), Orangerie des Tuileries, Paris, 1969-70, illustration of another cast p. 78

Reinhold Hohl, Alberto Giacometti: Sculpture, Painting, Drawing, London, 1972, illustration of another cast p. 256

Alberto Giacometti: A Retrospective Exhibition, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, 1974, illustration of another cast p. 111

Alberto Giacometti: Thirteen Bronzes, Thomas Gibson Fine Art, London, 1977, illustration of another cast p. 35

Giacometti: Sculpture, Paintings, Drawings, Arts Council of Great Britain, London, 1981, illustration of another cast p. 34

Alberto Giacometti Exposition, The Seibu Museum of Art, Tokyo, 1983, illustration of another cast no. 44

Bernard Lamarche-Vadel, Alberto Giacometti, Paris, 1984, illustration of another cast pl. 223

Reinhold Hohl, Alberto Giacometti, Stuttgart, 1987, illustration of another cast p. 256

Yves Bonnefoy, Alberto Giacometti: A Biography of his Work, Paris, 1991, illustration of another cast p. 419

Catalogue Note

Grande femme assise (Annette assise) is a bold depiction of Giacometti’s wife, Annette Arm.  Annette’s appearance in Giacometti’s paintings and sculpture of the mid-1950s marked a decisive shift in his art.  In comparison to the spindly, anonymous female figures of the previous decade, the women of the 1950s are marked by a more expressive style. Although several strong females provided inspiration for Giacometti’s work, it was Annette who had the most profound and long-lasting effect on his oeuvre. The present work evolves from the height of this complex and deeply significant relationship.


Giacometti was instantly taken with the young Annette when he met her after moving to Switzerland in 1942. As their friend Jean Starobinski remembered, “When Annette appeared at his side, in Geneva, it was as though she had been expected. She was a young woman who stood ‘facing you,’ who watched, and spoke, and met life ‘head on,’ infinitely candid and infinitely reserved, in a wonderful frontality” (quoted in The Women of Giacometti (exhibition catalogue), Pace Wildenstein, New York, 2005, p. 19). Starobinksi’s sentiment is echoed in Grande femme assise (Annette assise), in which Annette’s likeness is sculpted with an emotional sensitivity that is absent from Giacometti’s earlier works.


In 1947, Annette moved to Paris with Giacometti and rented a studio at the rue Hippolyte Maindron. This was the beginning of a 20-year relationship that evolved from that of an artist and his model to that of a husband and wife. Another friend of the couple, Paola Caròla, who modeled for Giacometti in 1958-1959, describes in a recent memoir Giacometti’s relationship with Annette and its effect on the artist’s work: “I experienced a mythical moment with a legendary couple, a strange parenthesis in my life, which now finds reality in contemplating the works that Giacometti left behind. I have often wondered about his profound work and about how he, perhaps more than any other great artist of his time, was able to address an entire generation, while remaining solitary, like his sculptures, which stand in a kind of fictional space, seemingly opposed to communication” (Paola Caròla, “Notes on Alberto Giacometti,” The Women of Giacometti (exhibition catalogue), Pace Wildenstein, New York, 2005, p. 11).


Grande femme assise (Annette assise) was preceded by a smaller, 50 centimeter version from 1956 entitled Annette Assise (see fig. 3).  The significant difference between the two sculptures, other than the size, is the treatment of the base.  In the 1956 version, the lower end of the figure is merged with the base by a broad wedge-shaped element.  In the Grande femme assise, the figure is suspended above its small base by a narrow column. In both pieces, Giacometti brings a fullness to the female figure which he had not previously explored in his sculpture. The richly textured surfaces that had characterized his work of the 1940s here meets with a more expressive and serene approach to the female form. This shift was also evident in the drawings and paintings that Giacometti executed at this time. While enveloping his palette in a gray tonality, the artist discovered a new sensibility through his painted portraits of Annette (see fig 2).


The present sculpture dates from the climax of this monumental shift in Giacometti’s work, as his relationship with Annette would begin to disintegrate by 1960.  Grande femme assise (Annette assise) demonstrates the singular and far-reaching effect that Annette had on his artistic creativity. In his biography of the artist, Yves Bonnefoy writes of the 1956 cast of the sculpture: “It has a superbly monumental quality and this contrast should not be a surprise, considering what is known of the inward, supra-spatial nature of the sculptor’s relationship with his models. Annette, nude, sits with her head held high, her hands open in her lap… she appears to be kneeling, like an Egyptian scribe, and Alberto gave her the scribe’s self-confidence as well as the appearance of existing outside of time, of advancing without motion in the absolute… The statue, moreover has a grace in its monumentality, a fullness of form, even a sensuous charm in the depiction of the body, all of which are very rare in Giacometti’s work” (Yves Bonnefoy, Alberto Giacometti: A Biography of his Work, Paris, 1991, p. 417).

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening

New York