Balthus's The Card Game, which was painted in 1948-1950 , is the result of a complex process of production culminating in a work of apparent simplicity.
The study technique used revealed a previous version beneath the painting that can be linked to Study for The Card Game of 1947.The materials and procedures discovered revealed that Balthus used various pictorial techniques to cover the underlying painting and produce the final result.
The study methods described have made it possible to identify the many layers of paint and their unequal distribution throughout the work; both findings support the idea that the artist worked on this painting in several stages. The most likely hypothesis is that after beginning it in 1948, taking as a basis an earlier sketch on the same subject, he left it rolled up in his studio for a time. Balthus subsequently went back to it and made some of the most significant changes, especially to the figures’ faces and hands.
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