As well as the paintings, Balthus left a large number of drawings, mostly preparatory studies. The fact that many of them show young women in very similar poses, with their genitals exposed, leaves open the question as to whether he was just interested in anatomy for art’s sake or whether he had an unhealthy interest in young female genitalia.

The drawings included here show the only known Balthus depiction of heterosexual coupling, dating from the early period of his marriage with the Japanese artist Setsuko Ideta.

Caractères japonais accouplés (Japanese People Coupling), 1964