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

Etude pour Nu au repos

Balthus (1908-2001)
Etude pour Nu au repos
signed with monogram (lower right)
pencil on paper
37 5/8 x 26 ¾ in. (95.6 x 68 cm.)
Dr. Mario d'Amico, Rome (gift from the artist, 1970).
Private collection (by descent from the above); sale, Hôtel Richelieu, Paris, 5 May 2004, lot 59.
The Lefevre Gallery (Alex. Reid & Lefevre, Ltd.), London.
Desmond Corcoran, London (acquired from the above).
David Tunkl Fine Art, Los Angeles.
Acquired from the above by the late owners, March 2006.


Allegra Bettini
Allegra Bettini




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.
"He tries to find in you things he can depict, aspects of you that are not simply physical," as Michela ("Michelina") Terreri later described posing for Balthus. "He tries to transcribe what you are; and so everything depends on the model, if she can reveal herself to the artist, who then draws what he wants to bring out... For me, [his pictures] show someone managing to capture an important moment of passage-that from childhood to adulthood" (quoted in J. Clair, ed., “Michelina,” Balthus, exh. cat., Palazzo Grassi, Venice, 2001, p. 151).
The present drawing is among the finest that Balthus produced during his sixteen-year stay in Rome. "André Malraux wanted [Balthus] to play the part of cultural ambassador of France and entertain accordingly," Virginie Monnier has written. "Since the budget allotted to the director did not cover these expenses, Balthus made a great number of drawings that he sold for that purpose," (ibid., p. 400). The enjoyment that he took in making such drawings and the benefit he found in selling them, led Balthus to reconsider his approach to the role of drawings in his work. "Up until then he only regarded his drawings as studies preparatory to his paintings," Monnier observed. "Henceforth he viewed them as independent works, elaborate and meant to be seen for themselves" (ibid.).

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