Not on display

Original title
Oil paint on board
Support: 797 × 984 mm
frame: 900 × 1095 × 55 mm
Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1959

Display caption

The private worlds of day-time reverie and sleep had been the preferred themes of Balthus's work since the mid-1930s. The young woman here, whose identity is unknown, appears to be in deep slumber. However, the awkward position of her arm suggests that her sleep might be feigned, and reminds us that the scene as a whole has been contrived by the artist. The woman's dress front appears casually undone, but its erotic appeal seems, again, quite calculated. The woman's face and hairstyle are modern, but her clothes have a timeless air, and her pose, as well as the dark tonality of the painting, have precedents in the art of the Old Masters.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

Balthus born 1908

T00297 Dormeuse (Sleeping Girl) 1943

Inscribed 'Balthus 1943' b.l.
Oil on millboard, 31 3/8 x 38 3/4 (79.5 x 98.5)
Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1959
Prov: Henri Bernstein, Paris; Mme Georges Gruber, Paris; Friends of the Tate Gallery
Exh: Balthus, Galerie Georges Moos, Geneva, November 1943 (12) as 'Dormeuse'; Balthus, Tate Gallery, October-November 1968 (21)
Repr: Cahiers d'Art, 1945-6, p.206 as 'Jeune Femme endormie'; Simon Wilson, The Surrealists (London 1974), pl.3; Simon Wilson, Surrealist Painting (London 1975), pl.17 in colour

Pierre Courthion noted in his foreword to the Galerie Moos catalogue of 1943: 'At the last moment I was able to see unpacked, at the Galerie Moos, the two most recently finished paintings by Balthus: the "Dormeuse" - whose treatment has a certain atmosphere of the French Revolution - and the great "Patience".'

Published in:
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, reproduced p.31


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