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Isabel to Giacometti, June 1940 (from a letter she left at her hotel in Paris before leaving the city.   Fearing that the Nazis would soon occupy Paris, she went to London to be with her husband):

Don't forget that it is decided, even if there is a delay of several years (I don't think so), I am coming to live with you.1

1 Isabel Delmer in a letter left at her hotel in Paris at the time of her departure for London (Foundation Alberto and Annette Giacometti Archives), quoted in Véronique Wiesinger, "On Women in Giacometti's Work (And Some Women in Particular)," The Women of Giacometti (New York: Pace Wildenstein, 2005), p. 18.

Giacometti on working from the model at this time

The more I looked at the model, the more the screen between reality and myself thickened. You begin by seeing the person who is posing, but gradually every possible sculpture interposes itself between the sitter and you.1

1 André Parinaud, "Entretien avec Alberto Giacometti: Porquoi je suis sculpteur," Arts (Paris), no. 873 (June 13-19, 1962), pp. 1, 5. Quoted and translated in David Sylvester, Looking at Giacometti (London: Chatto & Windus, 1994), p. 141.

Giacometti to Isabel, July 1945 (Giacometti left Paris to see his aging mother on December 31, 1941, only meaning to stay with her for a few months.  As it happened, he did not return to Paris until September 17, 1945.  Isabel moved in with him soon after his arrival, but they parted at the end of the year)

I shall see you soon, it isn't the lack of a visa that's stopping me coming back, I can come back when I like, yes it's my sculpture that's stopped me coming back for the last three years, it's been keeping me here in Geneva my life stagnating cut off from everything and I'm doing my utmost to get out of it as quickly as possible so as to be able to leave…Bring all my sculptures, Isabelle? If only I can manage to bring one back I shall be more than happy.1

1 Alberto Giacometti, Letter to Isabel Delmer (30 July 1945), quoted in David Sylvester, Looking at Giacometti (London: Chatto & Windus, 1994), pp. 144-145.

Giacometti on style

The truer a work of art is, the more it has a style. Which is strange, because style is not the truth of appearances, and yet the heads which I find most like those of the people one sees in the street are the least realistic heads, the heads of Egyptian, Chinese, or archaic Greek sculpture.1

1 André Parinaud, "Entretien avec Alberto Giacometti: Porquoi je suis sculpteur," Arts (Paris), no. 873 (June 13-19, 1962), pp. 1, 5. Quoted and translated in James Lord, Giacometti: A Biography (New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1983), p. 166.

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Alberto Giacometti - Portrait of Isabel (1937) Alberto Giacometti - Portrait of Isabel (1937) Bronze. Private Collection

After dropping out of art school in London, Isabel Nicholas (1912-1992) served as a model for an astonishing group of artists, including André Derain, Pablo Picasso, and Francis Bacon. On many occasions her professional relationship to some of these men became intimate, as was the case with Giacometti, with whom she briefly shared an apartment. It is likely that Giacometti was drawn to Isabel because he saw a similarity between her features and those of ancient Egyptian heads. When they met, he was preoccupied with finding a realistic form of representation akin to Egyptian art. In recognition of Isabel's resemblance to Egyptian models, the bust has sometimes been called "L'Egyptienne."