Private Collection, Italy
Private Collection, Brazil
Sale: Sotheby's, London, 1st July 1987, lot 279
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner
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.
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