Reference Entry


in Benezit Dictionary of Artists

ISBN: 9780199773787
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199899913 | DOI:

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French, 20th century, male.

Born 29 February 1908, in Paris; died 18 February 2001, in Rossinière.

Painter (gouache), decorative designer, draughtsman, illustrator. Figure compositions, figures, nudes, portraits, interiors with figures, still-lifes, flowers, landscapes, mountainscapes. Stage sets.

Poetic Reality.

Although of Polish origin, Balthus spent his early years in Paris before moving to Switzerland in 1914, settling in Geneva. He began painting when very young. He was probably self-taught but he grew up in a highly artistic environment; his family were artists and art lovers whose friends included Pierre Bonnard, André Gide and Rainer Maria Rilke. He was encouraged particularly by Rilke, who admired his attraction to the Far East. It was for Balthus that Rilke published his first work in French, a preface to the volume of his first drawings of cats. Bonnard also admired the young Balthus, and wrote a preface for his first exhibition, held when he was only 15 years old. With such encouragement, by the time he was 16, Balthus decided that he could dedicate himself entirely to painting and went to live in Paris, where he studied the works of French masters including Poussin, David and Courbet....

Reference Entry.  3276 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Painting ; Book Arts and Illustration ; Professional Interior Design ; 20th-Century Art

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