Mr. and Mrs. A. Cuvelier, Brussels (acquired from the artist circa 1942-43 and sold: Sotheby's, London, December 3, 1970, lot 105)
Private Collection, United States (since 1970)
Magritte painted Le Repos de l'esprit while living in Paris in the 1940s after the German occupation of Belgium and Holland. In resistance to the anxiety of the war years, Magritte employed a lighter palette in much of his work at the time. Although he ventures away from the darker tones, he does continue to include subjects and images that can be found throughout his oeuvre, such as the bird and egg in the present work. Magritte depicts his subjects with significant attention to detail, and his use of realism in these works challenged the dominant shift towards abstraction in modern art. Siegfried Gohr writes: "The crisis of vision prompted again and again by Magritte cannot be reduced to the sense that the world has gone off the rails; rather, it evokes a world that has become questionable, in the truest sense of the word, to its core. Magritte demonstrates this not by means of abstract experiments but by investigating concrete properties of objects, sensed in quite individual terms" (Siegfried Gohr, "The Charming Provocateur", René Magritte: The Key to Dreams (exhibition catalogue), Vienna, 2005, pp. 23-24)
In the foreground of Le Repos de l'esprit, Magritte depicts a framed composition just beyond a stone ledge. The artist often returned to this technique of including compositions within compositions, emphasizing the process of presentation. Within the frame, Magritte presents the image of a bird in flight. Implicitly related to this image, an egg rests on the ledge in the foreground. A sun-filled landscape with a mountain range provides the background. In his essay 'La Ligne de vie', written in 1938, Magritte commented on the relation of objects and place in his work: "As my research had necessarily to arrive at a single correct answer for each object, my investigation took the form of trying to find the solution of a problem with three points of reference: the object, the something linked to it in the obscurity of my consciousness and the light into which the something had to be brought" (ibid., p. 24).
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