Lot 63
  • 63

René Magritte

100,000 - 150,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • René Magritte
  • signed René Magritte and dedicated à Bill et Noma
  • oil on glass bottle
  • height: 30cm., 11 3/4 in.


William N. & Noma Copley, New York (a gift from the artist in 1959)
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1989


Letter from Noma Copley to Magritte, 6th October 1959
Letter from Magritte to William & Noma Copley, 8th Ocober 1959
Harry Torczyner, Magritte: Ideas and Images, New York, 1977, fig. 225, illustrated p. 125 (as dating from 1960)
David Sylvester (ed.), Sarah Whitfield & Michael Raeburn, René Magritte, Catalogue Raisonné, Oil Paintings, Objects and Bronzes 1949-1967, London, 1993, vol. III, no. 1079, illustrated p. 454

Catalogue Note

The first of Magritte's painted bottles was probably executed in the autumn of 1940, when he wrote to Edward James telling him about this idea. Some months later James, who had moved to America and was trying to find ways of helping Magritte, reminded him of that letter and suggested that a ready market for painted bottles was to be found in the States. The war prevented Magritte from sending the bottles to America, but he executed a small number of them to sell or give away at home. Many were done in response to requests from friends and collectors.

The present example and another painted bottle titled Femme-bouteille (D. Sylvester (ed.), op. cit., no. 1078) were executed for the New York collectors William N. and Noma Copley. According to the Catalogue Raisonné, 'In a letter dated 8 October 1959 Magritte told the Copleys he would paint two bottles [including the present work] for them while staying with them at Longpont [...]. William Copley gave Magritte in exchange a bottle he painted at the same time, and a photograph by Jacqueline Hyde [fig. 1], records the occasion' (ibid., p. 454).

William and Noma Copley were distinguished collectors and supporters of Surrealism, and their collection included seminal works by artists including Magritte, Ernst, Duchamp, Bellmer and Man Ray. The majority of the Surrealist works were sold at auction at Sotheby's New York in November 1979, and a number of them were acquired by major museums. The present work, however, remained in Noma Copley's collection after the couple's separation, and was acquired directly from her by the present owner.