French painter of figures and landscapes, and stage designer. Born Balthus Klossowski de Rola in Paris of Polish descent; both his parents were painters and his father also wrote a standard monograph on Daumier. Grew up in Paris and Switzerland, the close friends of the household including Rilke, Bonnard and Derain. Taught himself painting partly by copying Renaissance masters in the Louvre and in Italy. First one-man exhibition at the Galerie Pierre, Paris, 1934. Chiefly noted for his carefully constructed figure compositions with echoes of Piero della Francesca, Caravaggio, Courbet and Seurat, but often on the theme of the reveries and sexuality of adolescent girls. Spent 1943-6 in Switzerland, then returned to Paris. Designed sets and costumes for L'Etat de Siège by Albert Camus and several other plays. Moved in 1954 to the Ch-30teau de Chassy near Autun, then was appointed Director of the Académie de France in Rome 1961-77. Awarded the Grand Prix National des Arts 1976. Lives at Chassy.
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.31