Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Self-Portrait, c.1930s 

Alexandro Metallo Gibert (1902-66)

Self-Portrait, c.1930s, Alexandro Metallo Gibert
Oil and Canvas
20th Century
35 ½ x 31 ½ ins. (90.2cm x 80cm)
Private collection, USA
Alexandro Metallo Gibert, Galeria Witcomb, Buenos Aires, Argentina, September 1941
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All portraits present various challenges to the viewer. The most obvious is whether the artist has been able to penetrate beyond the sitter’s façade; do we see a mere replication of likeness, or can we also see a representation of character? Self-portraits are perhaps the only occasions when we can be certain that character and likeness are portrayed with equal honesty and clarity.

This self-portrait was painted by Alexandro Metallo Gibert, and had not been seen by scholars since 1941, when it was exhibited at the Galeria Witcomb in Buenos Aires. The gallery was renowned for showcasing the work of young, emerging painters and staged a number of seminal exhibitions around this time on artists including Emilio Pettorutti and Pedro Figari. Having been unaware of this portrait’s notable exhibition history, the attribution to Gibert was questioned, and the work was surprisingly and unnecessarily downgraded prior to being sold.

Now reaffirmed as an autograph self-portrait by Gibert, this works represents another exciting re-addition to his ever-increasing recorded body of work. Another self-portrait by Gibert, painted later in 1940, is in the collection at the Museo Nacional de Artes Visuales in Montevideo, Uruguay [Inv.2841]. Although the positioning of the left hand, which is loose and relaxed, is very similar to that seen in our work, the Montevideo self-portrait is altogether more apprehensive and lacks the outward display of self-confidence seen in the present painting.

Gibert was born in Uruguay in 1902 and by the 1930s, when this self-portrait was painted, he was working in Madrid, where he shared a studio on Moretto Street with Antonío "Antón" Rodríguez Garía from 1933. Gibert’s circle of patrons at this date were a combination of diplomats and high-society figures, although his most successful works were undoubtedly his portraits of male friends, whom he would paint with remarkable flair.
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