About this artwork
Balthus was born into an educated and artistic, but impoverished, family of Polish aristocrats who had fled political and economic turmoil to settle in Paris. As a young man, he traveled to Italy to study such Old Masters as Piero della Francesca. Aside from this direct experience, Balthus received little formal schooling; this permitted him to develop his own unique artistic vision. In 1933 he began painting the erotically charged images for which he is best known—enigmatic scenes of young girls lost in reverie that often place the viewer in the position of voyeur.
Balthus spent most of World War II in Switzerland, where in 1943 he painted Solitaire. The striking posture of the girl, deep in thought as she considers the cards on the table, is one the artist used in a number of earlier works. The insistent verticals of the patterned wallpaper create a counterpoint to the diagonal of the girl’s back; the mysterious expression of her shadowed face contrasts with the strong, raking light that defines her delicate, long fingers. These details suggest how carefully Balthus orchestrated the painting’s unsettling emotional tenor.
Currently Off View
- Modern Art
- Oil on canvas
- Signed and dated, l.l.: "Balthus 1943"
- 63 1/2 × 64 3/8 in. (161.3 × 163.5 cm)
- Joseph Winterbotham Collection
- © Balthus