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Celebrities turn out to bid Balthus farewell

Bono(right) speaks to Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan after Balthus's funeral


Around 350 mourners, including Bono, lead singer of the Irish rock group U2, the Swiss interior minister, Ruth Dreifuss and Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, attended the funeral in Switzerland on Saturday of the French-born painter, Balthus.

Balthus, who died last week 10 days short of his 93rd birthday, had been ill for some time.

The funeral was held in the Swiss village of Rossinière, and was attended by a number of high-profile guests, including Dreifuss, Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, the supermodel Elle McPherson and Bono. The French and Italian governments also sent representatives.

A ceremony took place at the church in Rossinière, before Balthus’s body was taken for burial in a coffin draped with a black flag.

Bono, a close friend of Balthus, sang a song in memory of the painter. His body was laid to rest at the foot of a hill not far from the house where he had lived for the last 23 years.

Tributes poured in from the worlds of art and politics for the painter. The French president, Jacques Chirac, called him an artist of “exceptional talent both in drawing and painting.”

The curator of Geneva’s art and history museum, Caesar Menz, described Balthus as a contemporary painter, even though his style owed much to the Italian primitive movement.

Balthus was self taught and is best known for his provocative paintings of young women, often with surreal elements in the background.

He had the rare distinction of having work exhibited in Paris’s Louvre museum during his lifetime.

swissinfo with agencies

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