Lot 62
  • 62

René Magritte

280,000 - 350,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • René Magritte
  • signed Magritte (lower right); signed Magritte, titled and dated 1926 on the stretcher
  • oil on canvas
  • 65 by 80cm.
  • 25 5/8 by 31 1/2 in.


Studio d'Arte Palma, Milan
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1962


Brussels, Galerie le Centaure, Exposition Magritte, 1927, no. 4
Charleroi, Salle de la Bourse, Exposition de quelques toiles de René Magritte, 1929, no. 1
Paris, Galerie André-François Petit, Hans Bellmer, Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst, René Magritte, Francis Picabia, Yves Tanguy, 1963, illustrated in colour in the catalogue (with incorrect measurements)
Arnhem, Gemeentemuseum, Werkelijkheid en verheelding: belgische surrealisten, 1964, no. 24


Paul-Gustave Van Hecke, 'René Magritte: peintre de la pensée abstraite', in Sélection, Antwerp, March 1927, illustrated p. 452
David Sylvester, Magritte, London, 1992, illustrated in colour p. 91
David Sylvester (ed.) & Sarah Whitfield, René Magritte. Catalogue Raisonné, Oil Paintings 1916-1930, London, 1992, vol. I, no. 75, illustrated p. 166

Catalogue Note

Après le bal was executed during a crucial turning point in Magritte's early career, a period that marked his definitive break with Cubism in favour of a Surrealist style. It was in 1926, the year the present work was painted, that he got a contract with the Galerie Le Centaure in Brussels. The gallery held Magritte's first one-man show in the following year, in which the present work was included. Après le bal represents the early stages in the genesis of the artist's iconography, depicting many of his stock images such as the curtain, the wooden floor motif and the 'bilboquet', seen here floating in the background.


Like other works by Magritte from this period (fig. 1), the composition of the present painting has the appearance of a stage set. Sarah Whitfield wrote: 'As in many of the early surrealist works the lighting, like the context, has the dramatic artificiality of a stage production and this is intensified by the wall and the black night behind, two of Magritte's most common screening devices. Enclosing an image within a confined architectural space is very much in the spirit of de Chirico, whose use of pictorial boundaries, such as the squares and piazzas of the metaphysical paintings, surely finds its equivalent in Magritte's stage-like settings' (S. Whitfield, Magritte (exhibition catalogue), The Hayward Gallery, London, 1992, p. 62).


Indeed, the present work bears a resemblance to de Chirico's series of Piazza d'Italia paintings, not only in its composition and perspective, but also in the sense of mystery and enigmatic theatricality of the scene. The female nude placed on a pedestal is as motionless as de Chirico's depictions of the statue of reclining Ariadne that often dominates his city squares. Discussing Après le bal and several other of Magritte's paintings from 1926, David Sylvester commented: 'Virtually all of them have a strongly theatrical quality, with their painted flats, their swagged curtains, their backgrounds that are like backcloths, in the odd case their performers. [...] they are essentially lyrical, and much of their charm [...] is in the sheer refulgence of their colour' (D. Sylvester, Magritte, London, 1992, p. 91).