The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a battle on its hands, all over the attached photo of the painting titled “Therese revant” by French painter Balthus. That photo was taken in Switzerland, nearly 10 years ago, in 2008. It was part of an exhibition that ran from June to November that year. However, a new fight has ensued in 2017, as the New York City institution finds itself in the middle of a country wrestling with sexual assault allegations and #MeToo campaigns going viral on social media.
As reported by Newser, the museum has refused to take down the painting, which is being called suggestive, or part of the problem of the “sexualization” of young women. The painting hails from 1938, when Balthus painted “Thérèse Dreaming.” Yet nearly 80 years later, it has become the topic of the petition titled “Metropolitan Museum of Art: Remove Balthus’ Suggestive Painting of a Pubescent Girl, Thérèse Dreaming,” crafted by Mia Merrill, who targets Metropolitan Museum of Art as the purveyor of “an evocative portrait of a prepubescent girl relaxing on a chair with her legs up and underwear exposed.”
According to Getty Images, the same painting appeared in 2007, in Germany, Cologne, at the Museum Ludwig as part of the exhibition titled “Balthus – Time Suspended. Paintings and Drawings 1932 to 1960.” The “Thérèse Revant” or “Dreaming Therese” is now the subject of plenty of online commentary, as the petition has gained more than 8,000 signatures.
The painting is being called “disturbing” by the petition creator who doesn’t believe that the current climate of sexual awareness should jibe with the museum displaying such a work of art. However, the museum disagrees and has refused thus far to take down the painting, according to the New York Post.
The melee is being called a perfect opportunity for conversation about artwork. Thérèse Blanchard is the subject of the painting – a girl who was a neighbor of Balthus in Paris and only 12 or 13 years of age when he painted the young girl. It isn’t the first time that Balthus was questioned about painting young girls in “provocative poses,” with the Paris Review reporting that Balthus claimed, “It is how they sit.”