The Mountain

Artist: Balthus (Balthasar Klossowski) (French, Paris 1908–2001 Rossinière)

Date: 1936–37

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 98 x 144 in. (248.9 x 365.8 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Purchase, Gifts of Mr. and Mrs. Nate B. Spingold and Nathan Cummings, Rogers Fund and The Alfred N. Punnett Endowment Fund, by exchange, and Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1982

Accession Number: 1982.530

Rights and Reproduction: © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


Painting in his austere Paris studio, Balthus imagined and depicted in this monumental canvas an escape from the congested city to the open landscape of Niederhorn Mountain, near Beatenberg, Switzerland. A hiking party of seven explores the mountainous terrain together, yet the figures are strangely isolated from one another, a persistent characteristic of Balthus’s work. The figure’s disparate poses and activities—walking, stretching, kneeling, and sleeping—heighten their detachment and enhance the scale and remoteness of the landscape. Invoking life in summer, The Mountain is one in an abandoned series of four canvases meant to symbolize the seasons.