82
82

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION

René Magritte
LA BELLE DE NUIT
ACCÉDER AU LOT
82

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION

René Magritte
LA BELLE DE NUIT
ACCÉDER AU LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Surrealist Art Evening Sale

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Londres

René Magritte
1898 - 1967
LA BELLE DE NUIT
signed Magritte (lower right); dated 1940 and titled on the stretcher
oil on canvas
65 by 54cm.
25 1/2 by 21 1/4 in.
Painted in 1940.
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Provenance

Lou Cosyn, Brussels (acquired from the artist)

Private Collection, Italy

Private Collection, Brazil

Sale: Sotheby's, London, 1st July 1987, lot 279

Purchased at the above sale by the present owner

Exposition

Brussels, Galerie Dietrich, Exposition René Magritte, 1941, no. 9

Bibliographie

David Sylvester (ed.), Sarah Whitfield & Michael Raeburn, René Magritte, Catalogue Raisonée, London, 1993, vol. II, no. 474, illustrated p. 277

Description

Painted in 1940, La belle de nuit coincided with a turbulent period for Magritte. When the Germans invaded Belgium on 15th May 1940 Magritte fled Brussels for France, fearing persecution for his previous political engagements. Although he remained there for only a few months, the upheaval inevitably had an effect on his work. Michel Draguet writes: ‘His work shook off the hold of reality in favour of what Breton termed “a world ruled by love and the marvellous”. His references to reality – those “fragments of external reality borne along on the waves of the oneiric imagination” – took on an increasingly distant connection with the everyday as, while continuing to work, he probed his inner world and examined the way some of those close to him perceived his art’ (M. Draguet, Magritte: His Work, His Museum, Paris, 2009, p. 108). This precipitated the move towards a new aesthetic of beauty that would eventually be expressed in the works of his ‘sunlight’ period. Rather than juxtaposing contradictory or unusual objects in an attempt to shock the viewer, the canvases of this period rely on subtler means (fig. 1). In La belle de nuit Magritte deliberately avoids the disconcerting imagery of some of his earlier work; instead the composition makes real the poetic metaphor of night falling, with a theatrical curtain suspended above a luminous blue nightscape. The idea of a curtain being symbolically interchangeable with sky was one that intrigued Magritte and one that he often explored in his paintings; he once told a reporter, 'the sky is a form of curtain because it hides something from us. We are surrounded by curtains' (quoted in Sarah Whitfield, Magritte (exhibition catalogue), Hayward Gallery, London, 1992, n.p.).

The present work can be seen as an early precursor to the series of works that Magritte would produce on the theme of day and night and which found its fullest expression in the L’empire des lumières paintings (fig. 2). Magritte described the significance of those works in an interview in 1956, ‘What is represented in a picture is what is visible to the eye, it is the thing or the things that had to be thought of. Thus, what is represented in the picture [L'empire des lumières] are the things I thought of, to be precise, a nocturnal landscape and a skyscape such as can be seen in broad daylight. The landscape suggests night and the skyscape day. This evocation of night and day seems to me to have the power to surprise and delight us. I call this power: poetry. The reason why I believe the evocation to have this poetic power is, among other things, because I have always felt the greatest interest in night and day’ (quoted in D. Sylvester, op. cit., vol. III, p. 145). This combination was among Magritte’s most successful and one that he returned to throughout his life – including in what turned out to be his last complete painting La page blanche (fig. 3). In this work he returned to a fully nocturnal scene that maintains this interest in the relationship between day and night whilst also exploring notions of concealment and revelation in a manner that is strongly reminiscent of the present work.

Surrealist Art Evening Sale

|
Londres