Wednesday 13 September 2023

Balthus - Wuthering Heights

Memories Steeped in Dreams: Lithographs, at the Basil and Elisa Goulandris Foundation Museum.

Ninety lithographs, engravings and ceramics from the collection of the Foundation, eight artists. Each post will cover one artist. This post is on Balthus' Wuthering Heights.

From 1933 to 1935, when he was in his early twenties, Balthus devoted himself to illustrating Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. He drew more than fifty studies in pencil depicting specific passages in the book. His fascination for this novel that he discovered at the age of fourteen incited him to draw comparisons between the story of Cathy and Heathcliff and his own relationship with his future wife Antoinette de Watteville, who was betrothed to another at the time. Some of these compositions would later inspire major paintings notably La Toilette de Cathy and Les Enfants Blanchard.

The success - tinged with scandal - of his first solo exhibition at the Galerie Pierre in 1934 would allow Balthus to see as early as 1935 eight of his illustrations published in the review Minoaure, spurred on by Teriade. Nevertheless, it was not until 1989 that the artist was finally able to present twelve of his drawings  transposed to lithographs beside extracts from the text by Bronte thanks to the Librarie Seguier.

Regarding his sketches, the artist said the following: 'I want to put in them many things, tenderness, childish longing, dreams, love, death, cruelty, crime, violence, cries of hatred, howls and tears.'

Again, as in the post on Picasso it was very difficult taking photographs due to the light in the gallery.


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