Lot 23
  • 23

Balthus

Estimate
350,000 - 550,000 USD
Sold
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Description

  • Balthus
  • Nu endormi
  • Signed with the monogram (lower right)
  • Crayon and charcoal on paper
  • 27 1/2 by 39 in.
  • 70 by 99 cm

Provenance

Galerie Claude Bernard, Paris

(possibly) E. V. Thaw, New York 

Acquired by the present owner in the 1970s

Exhibited

Paris, Galerie Claude Bernard, Balthus: dessins et aquarelles, 1971, no. 63

Literature

Xiaoshen Xing, Balthus, Shanghai, 1995, n.p.

Virginie Monnier & Jean Clair, Balthus, Catalogue raisonné of the Complete Works, Paris & New York, 1999, no. D 1149, illustrated p. 339

Catalogue Note

The most famous motif in Balthus's oeuvre is the reclining adolescent girl.  These pictures explore the sensuous geometry of the body and exploit the tantalizing potential of a bent knee or an exposed thigh.  Balthus insisted on depicting his models in variations of this salacious pose numerous times, resulting in the most definitive images of his art.   The present drawing belongs to a series that Balthus rendered in 1969-70 (D1146-1151), and is the most complete and detailed of the group. 

In his memoirs, the artist wrote the following about his drawings of young women: "There is no more exacting discipline than capturing these variations in faces and poses of my daydreaming young girls.  The drawing's caress seeks to rediscover a childlike grace that vanishes so quickly, leaving us with an inconsolable memory.  The challenge is to track down the sweetness so that graphite on paper can re-create the fresh oval of a face, a shape close to angels' faces" (Balthus, Vanished Splendors, A Memoir, New York, 2002, p. 65).

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