Roberto Matta was born on November 11, 1911 in Santiago, Chile. The son of a Chilean father, Roberto Matta Tagle, and a Spanish mother, Mercedes Echaurren Herboso. He also had two brothers, Mario Matta Echaurren and Sergio Matta Echaurren.
Matta grew up in an upper middle-class family. His mother was well read and highly cultured, fostering Matta's interest in art, literature, and languages.