135
135

EVERYTHING YOU CAN IMAGINE IS REAL: PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION

Balthus
ÉTUDE POUR "LE RÊVE I"
Estimate
250,000350,000
LOT SOLD. 450,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
135

EVERYTHING YOU CAN IMAGINE IS REAL: PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION

Balthus
ÉTUDE POUR "LE RÊVE I"
Estimate
250,000350,000
LOT SOLD. 450,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

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Balthus
1908 - 2001
ÉTUDE POUR "LE RÊVE I"
Signed Balthus and dated 54. (lower left); signed with the initials Bs and dated 54 (on the reverse)
Oil on canvas
18 1/4 by 21 3/4 in.
46 by 55.3 cm
Painted in 1954.
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Provenance

Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York (acquired from the artist)
Sale: Christie's, London, June 29, 1981, lot 61
Private Collection, New York
Acquired from the above on January 9, 1985

Exhibited

New York, Pierre Matisse Gallery, Balthus, 1957, no. 14
New York, Pierre Matisse Gallery, Balthus, Paintings 1929-1961, 1962, no. 9
Cambridge, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, The New Gallery, Balthus, 1964, no. 17

Literature

Jean Leymarie, Balthus, New York, 1982, p. 135
Balthus Retrospective (exhibition catalogue), Musée national d'art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 1983, no. 162, illustrated p. 366
Jean Leymarie, Balthus, Geneva, 1990, p. 137
Virginie Monnier & Jean Clair, Balthus: Catalogue Raisonné of the Complete Works, Paris, 1999, no. P.239, illustrated p. 168
Jean Clair, ed., Balthus, London, 2001, no. 2, illustrated p. 334

Catalogue Note

Étude pour "Le Rêve I" was painted in 1954, just one year after Balthus moved to the grandiose yet austere Château de Chassy in the Morvan region of France with his wife Antoinette de Watteville and their step-niece Frédérique Tison. The artist was extremely responsive to his new home which inspired some of Balthus’ most poetic paintings. Dating from the fourteenth century and remodelled in the seventeenth, the château provided the perfect studio for the reclusive artist. In large part due to his contentment with his physical surroundings, Balthus was finally able to commence the ambitious series to which the present work belongs, addressing a number of themes which preoccupied him throughout his career including the nature of public observation, the privacy of the domestic space and the psychology of dreams. As noted by the French art historian and Balthus scholar Jean Leymarie, “During his Chassy period…he worked with unflagging energy, as intent as ever on a slowly achieved, highly wrought perfection” (Jean Leymarie, Balthus, Geneva, 1982, p. 65).

The present work is one of several compositions devoted to the theme of the dream. Featuring one of the artist’s archetypal passive adolescents slumbering or daydreaming, who may have been modeled by Frédérique Tison, the two subjects of Étude pour "Le Rêve I" suggest both fortitude and vulnerability. While the languorous girls in a petit-bourgeois interior are presented as actors on stage, they are completely enveloped in their own world and unaware they are being observed. Slung over the sofa, the lack of tension of the reclining figure suggests deep sleep and the universal language of serenity. Jean Clair explains the ingenuity of the Le Rêve series in the context of the artist’s practice and overall treatment of the theme: “Balthus often drew or painted young girls asleep, saying they were ‘dreamers;’ but for the first time he represents in these paintings at once the sleeper and the object of her dream… he places the conjured-up figure amidst the reassuring, familiar context of everyday reality” (Balthus (exhibition catalogue), Venice, 2001, p. 334).

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