Series of paintings “Balthus: Cats and Girls“ the origins and permutations of the French artist’s focus on felines and the dark side of childhood. Balthus’s lifelong fascination with adolescence resulted in his most iconic works: girls on the threshold of puberty, hovering between innocence and knowledge…”
The genre of salacious images of women which Balthus's Girl with Cat is aligned traditionally include a small animal: cat or lap dog. The most famous examples perhaps are Jean Antoine Watteau's Lady at Her Toilette of 1716/17 (London, Wallace Collection) and Edouard Manet's Olympia of 1865 (Paris, Musee d' Orsay), but any number of thinly veiled Venuses or clothed beauties in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century painting carry, fondle, or are watched by a pet. Typical commentaries of the time would remark on how fortunate the pet was to enjoy such privileged proximity to the desired object. Unspoken, but often visually very obvious parallels were also made between the creature and the female body. Traditionally the animal thus has a double identity, related to both the artist/ voyeur and the female sex.