This belongs to a series of six drawings by Balthus showing the young model Katia asleep. The artist had met Katia at the Villa Medici, the French Academy in Rome, where he was appointed director in 1961. Katia was the daughter of one of the employees there. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Balthus executed several drawings of Katia in preparation for his painting Katia lisant of 1968-1976 (Monnier P333; Private collection). Katia endormie comes directly from the collection of Françoise Gilot, who from 1946 frequently visited Balthus’s studio, often together with Picasso, her companion at the time, with whom she had two children. In an article on Matisse and Balthus, written in 1998, Gilot explains: 'Balthus caresses the form of the model with a sensitivity and tenderness that doesn't exclude cruelty. His drawings are an act of seduction both for himself, for the viewer and, last but not least, for the model herself. His vision is always global, he always takes into account the unity of light that envelops the body. [...] Everything is subordinated to the all-encompassing quality of the light, a unity of feeling. Often the eyelids of the adolescent girl are lowered or even closed because she is either self-absorbed or asleep, having departed for an inner world that excludes the viewer as well as the painter and makes us all guilty of the vicarious pleasures derived from voyeurism. In a drawing by Balthus the model is never 'reified', she is not an object, she is always a being unaware of being watched while in a state of semi-innocence but already languidly cognizant of the awakening of the senses and the proximity of vague sexual desires. A girl observed during puberty, the transitional phase between childhood and adulthood, a moment of particular strength and vulnerability; for him she is perhaps never more a woman than when she is not yet a woman, when her silhouette is still an unfinished proposition full of potential 'elan' and still some leftover puppy-fat. With the soft touch of his pen or pencil the artist is perfectly attuned to this phase of metamorphosis, to the transient attractiveness of the nymphets. Supremely intelligent in his approach, he succeeds in expressing feeling without ever falling into sentimentality, he suggests more than describes the psychological climate of a given moment, yet he achieves sculptural and monumental greatness through wilful simplification'.