Lot 53
  • 53


1,500,000 - 2,000,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Balthus
  • Nu au foulard
  • Signed and dated Balthus 1981-1982 (on the reverse)
  • Oil on canvas
  • 64 1/8 by 51 1/8 in.
  • 163 by 130 cm


Galerie Alice Pauli, Lausanne

Private Collection, Europe

Acquired from the above in 1989


Kyoto, Municipal Museum of Art, Balthus, 1984, no. 32

Lausanne, Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Balthus, 1993

Tokyo, Station Gallery, Balthus, 1993-94, no. 28

Rome, Accademia Valentino, Omaggio a Balthus, 1996-97


Stanislas di Rola Klossowski, Balthus, London and New York, 1983, illustrated pl. 80

Balthus (exhibition catalogue), Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, 1983, no. 233, illustrated p. 381

Jean Leymarie, Balthus, New York, 1990, p. 150

Koharu Kisaragi, Shûji Takashina, Kunio Motoe, Balthus, Tokyo, 1994, illustrated pl. 59

Claude Roy, Balthus, Paris, 1996, p. 204

Stanislas di Rola Klossowski, Balthus, London, 1996, no. 94

Jean Clair, Balthus, Catalogue Raisonné of the Complete Works, Paris, no. P341, illustrated with theimage reversed p. 197

Catalogue Note

After sixteen years as director of the French Academy in Rome, Balthus moved to the Grand Chalet of La Rossiniere in Switzerland in 1977.  Towards the end of this period in Rome, two of his favorite models had been Katia and Michelina, daughters of an employee at the Villa Medici. Michelina had posed for the Nu de profil, 1973-77 (see fig. 1) in which the figure of the young girl is silhouetted against the uninflected wall of the painting studio at the Villa Medici.  In the present work and the closely related Nu au miroir (see next lot) Balthus placed his nudes in a similarly anonymous setting, placing all the emphasis on the stylized figures of the two adolescents. As Balthus recalled: “I’ve always had a naïve, natural complicity with young girls, like Natalie de Noailles, Michelina, Katia, Sabine, Frédérique, and more recently, Anna. Spiritual risks occur during long posing sessions. Making the spirit surge forth in a sweet and innocent mind, something not yet realized, that dates back to the beginning of time and must be preserved at all costs….. There is nothing riskier or more difficult than to render a bright gaze, the barely tactile fuzz of a cheek, the presence of a barely perceptible emotion like a heaviness mixed with lightness on a pair of lips. But the body and facial features were not my only focus. That which lay beneath their bodies and features, in their silence and darkness, was of equal importance” (Balthus, Vanished Splendors A Memoir, New York, 2001, pp. 65-66)

Fig. 1, Balthus, Nu de profil, 1973-1977, oil on canvas, Private Collection