Modern Art Monday Presents: Balthus’ Lelia Caetani

Lelia Caetani
Photo By Gail

By 1935, when Marguerite Caetani, Princess Bassiano, commissioned this portrait of her daughter Lelia, Balthus (Balthasar Klossowski) had grown tired and resentful of the painting commissions that were his only source of income. Depicted in the elegant Rond-Point des Champs-Elysées in Paris, Lelia is unfashionably dressed and appears considerately older than her twenty-two years. Her limbs are elongated and she dwarfs her surroundings, awkwardly towering over the trees and lamp posts, just as Lew Carroll’s Alice would do from time to time. Balthus later called his stylized, unflattering, and even bizarre portraits his “monsters.”

Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.

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