Lot 11
  • 11


400,000 - 600,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Balthus
  • Etude pour 'Le Lever'
  • Signed with the monogram (upper left)
  • Pencil on elephant skin paper
  • 39 3/8 by 27 1/2 in.
  • 100 by 70 cm


Galerie Claude Bernard, Paris

Roger Vanthournout, Belgium

Lefevre Gallery (Alex. Reid & Lefevre, Ltd.), London

Acquired from the above by the present owners


(possibly) Paris, Galerie Claude Bernard, Balthus: dessins, 1978-79

Venice, Palazzo Grassi, Balthus, 2001-02, no. 144, illustrated in color in the catalogue


Jean Clair & Virginie Monnier, Balthus: Catalogue Raisonné of the Complete Works, Paris, 1999, no. D1327, illustrated p. 370

Catalogue Note

The most iconic 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 depicted his models in variations of this salacious pose numerous times, resulting in the most definitive images of his art.   The present work belongs to a series of studies for the painting Le Lever (fig. 1).

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).