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223

Balthus

Léna aux bras croisés

VAT reduced rateArtist's Resale Right

Estimate:

140,000

to
- 180,000 EUR

Property from a Private Swiss Collection | Provenant d'une Collection Particulière Suisse

Balthus

Balthus

Léna aux bras croisés

Léna aux bras croisés

Estimate:

140,000

to
- 180,000 EUR

Lot sold:

351,300

EUR

Property from a Private Swiss Collection

Balthus

1908 - 2001

Léna aux bras croisés


signed Balthus and dated 54 (on the reverse)

oil on canvas

100,3 x 65,2 cm; 39½ x 25⅝ in.

Painted in 1954.

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Provenant d'une Collection Particulière Suisse

Balthus

1908 - 2001

Léna aux bras croisés


signé Balthus et daté 54 (au dos)

huile sur toile

100,3 x 65,2 cm; 39½ x 25⅝ in.

Peint en 1954.

The work has been examined framed. The canvas is not lined and is slightly loose. There is milky varnish preventing UV light from fully penetrating, however examination under UV light appears to reveal no evidence of retouching. There are a few scattered superficial fly spots, notably to the model's chest. There are a few minor lines of craquelure notably to the model's neck. There is some frame rubbing along the extreme edges. This work is in overall very good condition and could benefit from a light clean.


Please note: Condition XVI of the Conditions of Business for Buyers (Online Only) is not applicable to this lot. (Veuillez noter que l'Article XVI des Conditions Générales de Vente applicables aux Acheteurs (Ventes Effectuées Exclusivement en Ligne) n'est pas applicable pour ce lot.)

 

The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colors and shades which are different to the lot's actual color and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation. The condition report is a statement of opinion only. For that reason, the condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS ONLINE CONDITION REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE/BUSINESS APPLICABLE TO THE RESPECTIVE SALE.

Private collection (acquired directly from the artist)
Private collection, Switzerland (acquired circa 1970)
Jean Leymarie, Balthus, Genève, 1982, illustrated p. 128
Jean Clair & Virginie Monnier, Balthus, Catalogue raisonné de l'œuvre complet, Paris, 1999, no. P227, illustrated p. 165
Paris, Gazette des Beaux-Arts, Balthus, 1956
Paris, Centre Georges Pompidou, Musée national d'art moderne & New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Balthus, 1983-84, no. 136, illustrated in the catalogue p. 363

In Léna aux bras croisés, Balthus takes as his model Léna Leclercq, a talented poetess and philanthropist whom he met in 1947. In Paris since 1945, she frequented the café Les Deux Magots. There she became friends with Alberto Giacometti, who encouraged her work and later collaborated on her book of poems Pomme endormie, illustrating it with eight lithographs. She also met other artists such as Miro, Ernst, Masson, Balthus and Simone de Beauvoir, in an atmosphere of intellectual emulation. Several years later, she and Balthus met again and began a brief but passionate love affair. After living in Guadeloupe from 1950 to 1952, Léna shared the painter’s life at his château in Chassy, in the Morvan, until 1955, and was also his housekeeper when he went to Paris. This resulted in the creation of several portraits of Léna, among which Léna aux bras croisés, painted in 1954, is a striking example, reflecting the singular personality of Balthus in 20th century art, aside from the various avant-gardes.


This painting highlights the multifaceted nature of Balthus’s work and stands in sharp contrast to the more suggestive and erotic depictions of young women that run through his oeuvre. While the bright colour of Lena’s outfit immediately catches the viewer’s eye, the work is also striking for the modesty of the interior depicted, with the background blending into a single cameo of colours. Léna occupies most of the space on the canvas and yet her gaze is as if plunged into the distance. Balthus turns her into an enigmatic character, an enigma that the viewer is invited to decipher. 

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Dans Léna aux bras croisés, Balthus prend pour modèle Léna Leclercq, une poétesse talentueuse et philanthrope qu’il rencontre en 1947. A Paris depuis 1945, elle fréquente Les Deux Magots. Elle s’y lie d’amitié avec Alberto Giacometti, qui l’encourage dans son travail et collabore par la suite notamment à son livre de poèmes Pomme endormie, en l’illustrant de huit lithographies. Elle fréquente aussi d’autres artistes comme Miro, Ernst, Masson, Balthus et Simone de Beauvoir, dans un climat d’émulation intellectuelle. Plusieurs années plus tard, Balthus et elle se retrouvent et débutent une liaison amoureuse brève, mais passionnée. Ainsi, après avoir vécu en Guadeloupe de 1950 à 1952, Léna partage jusqu’en 1955 la vie du peintre dans son château de Chassy, dans le Morvan, assurant également l’intendance lorsqu’il se rend à Paris. Il en résulte l’exécution de plusieurs portraits de Léna, dont Léna aux bras croisés, peint en 1954, est un exemple saisissant, reflétant la personnalité singulière de Balthus dans la peinture du XXe siècle, à l’écart des différentes avant-gardes.


Cette toile souligne les multiples facettes de l’œuvre de Balthus et se distingue vivement des représentations plus suggestives et érotiques de jeunes femmes qui parcourent son œuvre. Si la couleur vive de la tenue de Léna capte immédiatement le regard du spectateur, l’œuvre frappe également par la modestie de l’intérieur représenté, le décor s’harmonisant dans un même camaïeu de couleurs. Léna occupe la majeure partie de l’espace de la toile et pourtant son regard est comme plongé dans le lointain. Balthus en fait un personnage énigmatique, une énigme que le spectateur est invité à décrypter.