The Mountain was completed in 1937 by Balthasar Klossowski (Comte de Rola, b. 1908) known by his childhood nickname of Balthus. The painting is considered one of the artist's most important early works. First exhibited in 1939 with the title "Summer," it remains the only completed painting in a projected cycle of the four seasons. The painting dates to the postwar period in Europe, an era where people were experiencing a deep sense of despair and disillusionment, factors that had a profound implication for art at the time. Balthus uses his talent and skill, which resulted in an eerie sense of the anxiety and decadence that haunted the renascent Europe of the inter-war years.
The mountain's appearance displays Balthus" imagination with enigmatically narrative compositions. This majestic panorama is also his largest canvas and one of the few that depicts figures in a landscape. The painting depicts the summit of a mountain where a group of people seek refuge or are embarked on a journey. The composition includes seven figures; three males and three females. The painting draws attention to three people in the foreground. One male, beside his knapsack, is on one knee resting and leaning on his cane. One female is standing with her hands locked above her head while stretching. Her cane is sticking up from the ground. The other female lies asleep on the ground with her hands folded over her cane.
Balthus uses many formal aspects to bring this painting to life. The medium is oil on canvas which allows for a rich and detailed appearance. The use of visual elements such as lines were manipulated to bring out a steep effect of the mountain and its many peaks. The lines created many rocky shapes that are needed to provide definition to the mountain. Painted in objective and exacting detail, the realistic figures and landscape seem at odds with the surrealistically contrived narrative.
Another aspect to be considered with this painting is the color scheme.