Balthus was born Balthasar Klossowski de Rola in Paris on February 29, 1908. Klossowski is a name that goes back for centuries in the Polish nobility, but he is also descended from the Gordons of Scotland, the most notable of whom was Lord Byron. His father was a noted critic whose house was always full of artists, writers, musicians, poets, psychologists and philosophers. For young Balthasar, the talk in the salon was an education in itself.
It was the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke who started him on his career. Balthus was eleven when he showed Rilke some drawings he had made of a pet cat that had suddenly disappeared. The poet was so enchanted that he wrote a little text
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