Balthus – (Shapes and Rhythm)

Balthus - Large Landscape with Trees - 1955 - 114 x 162 cm - oil on canvas

 

This great landscape by Balthus is a superb example of the power of shapes and rhythm.  Before we get to that I would like to emphasise that Balthus is conveying a poetic scene  for our engagement, and very aware that most of us will sense the sophistication without the need to analyse the composition.

Now to the great pleasure of analysing his masterful composition.  Lets begin with the powerful large shape formed by the wall at the right and the hedge leading us across the painting to the dark trees at the left edge.  Also the fields could be combined to form the feeling of a very large shape which dramatically draws us in.  For me, the key of this brilliant arrangement of shapes is the power of the angle formed by the wall and the hedge, which contains and embraces the focus of the man and the horse.

The rhythms within this shape are wonderful, and I marvel at his level of contemplation.  I love how poetically every tree supports the communication between the man and the horse.  How the rhythm of the delicate light trees harmonize with their gestures and how the wonderful vertical ones gracefully support the figure.  Note how the right leaning rhythm of the trees ends with ends by connecting to the tree leaning to the left, which in turn is supported by three trees at the left.  Can you feel the harmony?

I will finish with the relationship of the dark tree just above the figure and how it relates, in shape and size, with that fantastic pull in the field above.  One of the best pulls I have seen.  You may carry on, as there are many other beautiful notes for you to discover.

Balthus was a great master of composition.

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