Pierre Matisse (1900–1989), the second son of the painter Henri Matisse, came to New York in 1924 to try his luck as an art dealer. In 1931 he opened a gallery in the Fuller Building on Fifty-seventh Street, where, for the next fifty-eight years, he introduced to America some of the best modern European art. Among the artists he championed were Mirò, Balthus, Giacometti, Dubuffet, and Tanguy.
In 1938 Matisse gave Balthus his first one-man exhibition in the States. During his annual summer visit to Paris, Matisse posed in the artist’s forbiddingly austere studio at 3, cour de Rohan. While the Frenchman was known for his reticence and reserve, Balthus depicted him as a relaxed, jaunty American businessman with a loud patterned tie in a relaxed posture.
This painting is part of the extraordinary gift of the personal collection of Pierre Matisse and of his wife, Maria-Gaetana (1943–2001) that the Metropolitan Museum received in 2002 through the generosity of Eugene Thaw and the other Trustees of the Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Foundation.
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Artist:Balthus (Balthasar Klossowski) (French, Paris 1908–2001 Rossinière)
Medium:Oil on canvas
Dimensions:51 1/4 × 35 in. (130.2 × 88.9 cm)
Credit Line:The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection, 2002
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower left): Balthus 1938
Pierre Matisse, New York (gift of the artist, 1938–d. 1989; lost for a time and found in 1991); his widow, Maria-Gaetana Matisse, née von Spreti, New York (1991–d. 2001); Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Foundation (2002; gift to MMA)
Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. "Années 30 en Europe: Le temps menaçant 1929–1939," February 20–May 25, 1997, unnumbered cat. (p. 518; as "Portrait de Pierre Matisse," lent by a private collection).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Balthus Remembered," March 27–May 27, 2001, no catalogue.
New York. Pierpont Morgan Library. "Pierre Matisse and His Artists," February 14–May 19, 2002, no. 26.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection," May 18, 2004–June 26, 2005, no catalogue.
Paris. Mona Bismarck Foundation. "Pierre Matisse, passeur passionné: Un marchand d'art et ses artistes," October 20, 2005–January 14, 2006, unnumbered cat. (p. 93).
Museo Picasso Málaga. "La Colección Pierre y Maria-Gaetana Matisse en The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Nueva York," March 26–June 24, 2007, no. 1.
Martigny. Fondation Pierre Gianadda. "Balthus: 100e anniversaire," June 16–November 23, 2008, no. 44.
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. "Rétrospective Balthus," April 19–June 22, 2014, no. 22.
Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art. "Balthus," July 5–September 7, 2014, no. 22.
Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. "Derain, Balthus, Giacometti, une amitié artistique," June 2–October 29, 2017, no. 102 (as "Portrait de Pierre Matisse").
"57th Street – A Tight Bottleneck for Art in the United States." Fortune Magazine 34 (September 1946), p. 148, ill.
Jean Leymarie. Balthus. 2nd enl. ed. (1st ed., 1979). New York, 1982, p. 126, ill.
Gérard Régnier, ed. Balthus. Exh. cat., Centre Georges Pompidou, Musée national d'art moderne. Paris, 1983, p. 347, no. 49, ill.
John Russell. Matisse: Father & Son. New York, 1999, ill. facing p. 288.
Virginie Monnier in Virginie Monnier and Jean Clair. Balthus: Catalogue Raisonné of the Complete Works. Paris, 1999, p. 135, no. P114, ill.
Jean Clair et al. Balthus. Exh. cat., Palazzo Grassi. Venice, 2001, p. 486.
Hilton Kramer. "Matisse Collection at Morgan Library Best Show in Town." New York Observer (February 24, 2002), p. 1.
E. N. "Let's Not Make a Deal." New York Magazine (February 25, 2002), p. 82, ill.
Sabine Rewald in "Recent Acquisitions. A Selection: 2002–2003." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 61 (Fall 2003), p. 41, ill. (color).
Sabine Rewald in "Selections from the Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 61 (Spring 2004), pp. 8–9, ill.
Holland Cotter. "Matisse the Son, Illuminating His Father's Legacy." New York Times (2004), pp. E25, E28, ill.
Hilton Kramer. "Dealer Pierre Matisse, Henri's Collector Son, Shown at Metropolitan." New York Observer (June 14, 2004), p. 1.
David Minthorn. "Met Unveils Gifts from Matisse Son." Deseret News (May 23, 2004).
Louise Nicholson. "A Man of Infinite Taste: The Met has Bagged a Major Treasure in the Pierre Matisse Collection." Apollo 160 (October 2004), p. 85.
Sabine Rewald. "Matisse's Drawing of Shchukin: A Gift to The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Burlington Magazine 147 (March 2005), p. 187, fig. 50 (color).
Sabine Rewald. The American Matisse: The Dealer, His Artists, His Collection. The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection. New York, 2009, pp. 26, 149, ill. p. 27 (color).
Camille Viéville. Balthus et le portrait. Paris, 2011, p. 142, fig. 124 (color).
Anaïs Alax Gazeau inDerain, Balthus, Giacometti, une amitié artistique. Exh. cat., Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Paris, 2017, pp. 145, 287, no. 102, ill. p. 152 (color).
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Balthus (Balthasar Klossowski) (French, Paris 1908–2001 Rossinière)
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