- René Magritte
- LE BANQUET
- signed Magritte (lower left); signed Magritte and titled on the reverse
- gouache on paper
- 28.5 by 41cm.
- 11 1/4 by 16 1/8 in.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1986
Tokyo, Galerie des Arts de Tokyo; Toyama, Musée d'Art de la Préfecture & Kumamoto, Musée d'Art de la Préfecture, René Magritte, 1982, no. 74
Depicting a forest landscape at sunset, with the bright red sun pasted onto the trees, Le Banquet is a magnificent example of two key elements of Magritte's art: the influence of papiers collés on his painterly technique, and the juxtaposition of the visible and the invisible. The first version of this image was executed in another gouache of 1956. In a letter dated 9th November 1956, Magritte wrote that the subject of Le Banquet was one of his two latest 'trouvailles' ('finds'), and described the image as 'trees against a reddish sky at sunset. The red sun is visible on the mass of the trees hiding it' (quoted in D. Sylvester (ed.), op. cit., p. 193).
In the last decade of his life, Magritte executed several versions of Le Banquet in oil and gouache, in some of which the landscape is seen from an interior, as if trough a window of from a balcony. In the present work, however, the artist achieved maximum effect by reducing the visual vocabulary to its minimum. A neutral landscape is transformed here by revealing what would normally be hidden, and the visible and invisible elements coexist on the picture plane. The perfectly round shape in the centre of the composition is also reminiscent of the moon, one of the frequently used elements throughout Magritte's œuvre. This synthesis of night and day evokes the artist's celebrated image of L'Empire des lumières, and imbues this work with a mysterious and poetic quality unique to Magritte's art.