175
175

PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED EUROPEAN COLLECTION

Balthus
ETUDE POUR LES BEAUX JOURS
Estimate
200,000300,000
JUMP TO LOT
175

PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED EUROPEAN COLLECTION

Balthus
ETUDE POUR LES BEAUX JOURS
Estimate
200,000300,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

|
London

Balthus
1908 - 2001
ETUDE POUR LES BEAUX JOURS
signed with the intial B and dated 44 (lower left)
oil on paper laid down on canvas
37.9 by 45.7cm., 14 7/8 by 18in.
Painted in 1944.
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Provenance

Galerie Henriette Gomes, Paris
Acquired from the above by the present owner in the late 1980s

Exhibited

Ornans, Musée Gustave Courbet, Balthus dans la maison de Courbet, 1992, no. 17

Literature

Virginie Monnier, Balthus, Catalogue raisonné de l'œuvre complet, Paris, 1999, no. P 150, illustrated p. 145 and in colour p. 74

Catalogue Note

Etude pour Les Beaux jours, in the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, is considered to be one of the masterpieces of Balthus’ œuvre. The present work is one of two known studies for this work, executed in 1944, painted at a time when Europe was being ravaged by the Second World War. Balthus’ painting of this period can arguably be seen as a response to this international turmoil, yet the title of the present work alludes to better times. Pierre Jean Jouve, the French writer, novelist and poet who knew Balthus well dedicated a text on Les Beaux-jours in his Proses published in 1960. In his short text, inspired by Balthus’ work, he evokes the ‘beaux jours…quand toute grâce baignait l’univers en innocence’ (in Balthus (exhibition catalogue), Centre Pompidou, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris, 1983-84, p. 67).

Away from the immediate threat of war, Balthus focussed much of his work on languid and quiet interior scenes. In the present work, the painter juxtaposes a fireplace in the background with the portrayal of a young girl reclining in her chaise-longue holding up a mirror, a frequent iconic pose in Balthus’ works. The reclining girl is a motif which echo the state of sleep and awareness, and on this particular pose the artist writes in his memoirs, ‘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). Seated in a bourgeois interior, the young girl is caught in the act of admiring her features, echoing the Greek myth of Narcissus and his death provoked by self-contemplation. The influence of the Italian primitives, such as Piero della Francesca, is referenced in the sfumatic glow and light tones of Etude pour Les Beaux Jours. The interior further echoes Matisse’s works from the late 20s, in which background and foreground as well as decorative motifs are fused into one to achieve a very distinct depiction of space.

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

|
London