Lot 72
  • 72


350,000 - 500,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Balthus
  • Nature morte
  • Signed and dedicated à Tigrane - pour le 4 Janvier 1982. Dixhuit mois plus tard - avec l'affection de son ami - Balthus (on the reverse)
  • Oil on panel
  • 39 3/8 by 31 3/4 in.
  • 100 by 80.7cm


Tigrane Matossian, Switzerland (a gift from the artist)

Private Collection (by descent from the above and sold: Christie's, London, February 6, 2007, lot 33)

Acquired at the above sale


Paris, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Balthus, 1983-84, no. 64, illustrated in color in the catalogue

New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Balthus, 1984

Lausanne, Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Balthus, 1993, illustrated in color in the catalogue 

Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Balthus, 1996

Rome, Accademia Valentino, Omaggio a Balthus, 1996-97, illustrated in the catalogue


Jean Leymarie, Balthus, New York, 1990, p. 142

Claude Roy, Balthus, Paris, 1996, illustrated p. 255

Virginie Monnier & Jean Clair, Balthus, Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre complet, Paris, 1999, no. P343, illustrated p. 198

Catalogue Note

Nature Morte is an outstanding example of Balthus’ bold approach to the long-standing traditions of still-life painting. “Real modernity is in the reinvention of the past, in re-found originality based on experience and discoveries” the artist once said (Balthus, quoted in Vanished Splendors A Memoir, New York, 2001, p. 81). The trompe-l'oeil effects of the present composition, rendered on a panel and with a surface that has the textural appearance of a fresco, exemplifies the artist's affinity for the art of the Renaissance.  An avid scholar and enthusiast of Old Masters such as Caravaggio and Poussin, Balthus sought to emulate their style and technique in his own compositions. Philippe de Montebello, former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art observed, "Somewhat like Sassetta in his own time, Balthus stands apart from contemporaneous artistic movements. This deliberate aloofness contributes to the poignancy of his still interiors, solitary figures, and strictly ordered street scenes and landscapes. He is very much an enigma. His oeuvre is a quintessential expression of our age, yet it resists categorization. Indeed, the achievement of Balthus commands its own chapter in the history of twentieth-century art" (Balthus, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1984, pp. 7).