Self Portrait at the age of twenty

Autoritratto all’età di vent’anni

Giovanni Segantini
1879-1880, oil on canvas, 35x26 cm
Arco, Comune di Arco - Galleria Civica G. Segantini

Signed at bottom left : «G. Segantini»


Nicodemi 1958; Archivi 1968, II.10; Gozzoli 1973, n. 15; Giovanni Segantini 1978, p. 146 n. T.2; Quinsac 1982, n. 185; Segantini 1987, pp. 74, 75 (ill.); Giovanni Segantini 1990, p. 68, n. 5; Segantini 1999, pp. 82 (ill.), 222; Giovanni Segantini 1999, pp. 8 (ill.), 45; Stutzer, Wäspe 1999, p. 79 (ill.); Giovanni Segantini 2008, pp. 90, 91 (ill.); Giovanni Segantini 2011, pp. 126-127 n.50; Segantini 2011, p. 150 (ill.); Segantini 2014, n. 9, pp. 128, 130 (ill.), 288; Segantini e Arco 2015, p. 14 (ill.); Stutzer 2016, pp. 58, 59 (ill.); Giovanni Segantini 2021, pp. 82, 83 (ill.).


Arco 1958; Kobe, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Takasaki, Kita-Kyushu 1978; Milano 1979; Trento 1987; Zurigo-Vienna 1990-1991; Arco 1999; Trento 1999-2000; Arco 2008; Basilea 2011; Shiga 2011; Milano 2014-15; Arco 2015; Saint Moritz 2021; Arco 2021-2022.

Scheda opera

Known as the artist’s first known self-portrait, the small canvas can be dated to his early period around 1879 and recovers the typical modules of late Romantic portraiture with the three-quarter pose and the topos of the outward gaze suggesting a moment of inspiration.
From a pictorial point of view, the painting shows Segantini’s adherence to the modules of Lombard painting in the 1970s: far from the introspective atmospheres of Scapigliata portraiture and Cremonian and Ranzonian painting, it instead ties in with the more purely naturalist line. The construction and restitution of the volume is all entrusted to colour through a synthetic drafting, as can be appreciated in the details of the clothes, in the bow – built on a variation of intensity in the cerulean tone -, in the rendering of the hair or in the summarising white brushstrokes that render the shirt and characterised by a certain material evidence. More delicate and melted, on the other hand, is the chromatic drafting of the face realised through the superimposition, on a more liquid and uniform background, of quicker, more full-bodied brushstrokes that mark the chromatic and luministic elevations as can be appreciated in the more material highlights of the eyes or in the line of light that reveals the nose.