By 1935, when Marguerite Caetani, Princess Bassiano, commissioned this portrait of her daughter Lelia, Balthus 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 lamppost. Balthus later called his stylized, unflattering, and even bizarre portraits his "monsters."
Inscription: Signed, dated, and inscribed (on reverse): Lelia/ Caetani Balthus 1935
Marguerite Chapin Caetani, Princess Bassano, Paris (commissioned from the artist in 1935–d. 1963); her daughter, Lelia Caetani, Rome (1963–d. 1977); her husband, The Honorable Hubert Howard, Rome (1977–86; his sale, Sotheby's, New York, November 18, 1986, no. 47, sold to Matisse); Pierre Matisse, New York (1986–d. 1989); his widow, Maria-Gaetana Matisse, née von Spreti, New York (1989–d. 2001; sale, Christie's, New York, May 8, 1991, no. 30, bought in); Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Foundation, New York (from 2002; Partial and Promised Gift to MMA)
New York. Pierre Matisse Gallery. "Balthus Paintings," March 21–April 16, 1938, no. 5 or no. 6.
Tokyo Station Gallery. "Balthus," November 3, 1993–January 30, 1994, no. 3.
Hong Kong Museum of Art. "Balthus," May 5–June 4, 1995, no. 3.
The Palace Museum, Beijing. "Balthus," June 24–July 28, 1995, no. 3.
Taipei Fine Arts Museum. "Balthus," August 12–October 1, 1995, no. 3.
Madrid. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. "Balthus," January 30–April 1, 1996, unnumbered cat.