Balthus (1908-2001)
Balthus (1908-2001)
Balthus (1908-2001)
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Balthus (1908-2001)

Etude pour "Le Rêve II"

Balthus (1908-2001)
Etude pour "Le Rêve II"
signed, dated, and inscribed 'Balthus. 1956 fait à Chassy' (lower right)
pencil on paper
21 3/8 x 16 7/8 in. (54.4 x 42.9 cm.)
Drawn in 1956
E.V. Thaw & Co., Inc., New York (by 1963).
B.C. Holland, Inc., Chicago.
Dr. Eugene A. Solow, Chicago (by 1980); Estate sale, Christie's, New York, 1 May 1996, lot 251.
Jeffrey H. Loria & Co., Inc., New York (acquired at the above sale).
Acquired from the above by the present owner, November 1997.
J. Leymarie, Balthus, Geneva, 1979 (illustrated, pl. 3).
J. Leymarie, Balthus, Geneva, 1982, p. 100 (illustrated; with incorrect dimensions).
C. Roy, Balthus, Boston, 1996, p. 184 (illustrated).
V. Monnier and J. Clair, Balthus: Catalogue Raisonné of the Complete Works, Paris, 1999, p. 290, no. D870 (illustrated).
New York, E.V. Thaw & Co., Inc., Drawings by Balthus, November-December 1963, no. 45 (illustrated; dated circa 1958 and titled Sleeping Girl I).
Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, Balthus in Chicago, August-November 1980, no. 29 (dated 1958; illustrated, p. 8).
The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Collects: Selections from the Collection of Dr. Eugene A. Solow, May-August 1988, p. 6, no. 4 (dated circa 1958).

Lot Essay

The dreaming young girl is Balthus’s most engaging and signature subject. Such a figure appeals to our feelings as the very embodiment of innocence, and that of a particularly gentle and delicate kind, arising from a crucial period of transformation through adolescence to early adulthood. As coming-of-age autobiographies and fiction have long been a significant part of our literary heritage, the art of Balthus may also reveal facets of these moments, as a kind of deeply perceptive and enchanting visual poetry. Here in Balthus's Etude pour 'Le Rêve II', in a place deep within this state of serene feminine repose, at the very center of consciousness, where absolute stillness and silence prevail, images flicker before the sleeping mind's eye, and as Balthus envisions it, an entire world seems to gestate and emanate forth, as mind and spirit mysteriously meet and mingle with the world. "Making the spirit surge forth in a sweet and innocent mind, something not yet realized," Balthus wrote in his memoir, "that dates back to the beginning of time and must be preserved at all costs" (Vanished Splendors: A Memoir, New York, 2001, p. 65).
Etude pour 'Le Rêve II' reflects a contemplative gentleness, an ease with one's surroundings and an enjoyment of these surroundings, qualities which characterize the works that Balthus made in the splendid isolation of his chateau at Chassy, in the Morvan region of Burgundy. The series of works on the theme of Le Rêve that Balthus executed in 1954-1957, during the early period of his residence at Chassy, are a celebration of this newfound solitude and inner freedom. He recalled, "In the farm at Chassy, so close to basic things, dilapidated but infinitely great in the echoes it produced of certainty and profound truth, I found a new source of energy and material for advancing my research" (ibid., p. 123). He commenced the cycle following the arrival of his niece Frédérique Tison, the step-daughter of his brother Pierre Klossowski, who was a novelist and painter. She became his favorite model during this period, and she appears in the Rêve series. The figure of the looming girl in the first Le Rêve painting, rendered in deep umber tones, has a vaguely material presence; the viewer is unsure, however, if she is flesh or spirit. In the present Etude pour 'Le Rêve II', she is virtually translucent, or "diaphanous," as the artist has described her. Here she appears like an apparition from a spirit world, conferring her greeting and blessing on the sleeping Frédérique.

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