The disconnect between the subject of this picture and its title was typical for Magritte's best compositions. Titles were often assigned to his paintings upon completion and very frequently decided upon by his friends. An informative title, Magritte believed, denied the viewer the experience of using his imagination when confronted with a given image. This was specifically true for the image of the tree, which was a favourite subject for the artist. In later years, Magritte told André Breton that using a descriptive title for his tree compositions mislead the viewer and undermined the greater significance of his subject: 'To name the image of a tree "Tree" is an error, a "mistaken identity," since the image of a tree is separate from what it shows' (quoted in Harry Torczyner, Magritte: Ideas and Images, New York, 1977, p. 109).
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