- René Magritte
- Le Météore
- Signed Magritte (lower right)
- Oil on canvas
- 21 1/2 by 18 in.
- 54.5 by 46 cm
Private Collection (by descent from the above)
Brook Street Gallery, London
Jan Krugier, Geneva (circa 1970)
Marci Collection Trust
Private Collection, Geneva (acquired from the above)
Alexander Iolas, Athens
Acquired by the present owner circa 1995
David Sylvester, René Magritte, Catalogue Raisonné, Oil Paintings, Objects and Bronzes 1949-1967, London, 1993, vol. III, no. 995, illustrated p. 398
In the present work, Magritte combines the horse with a tower. This variation, first developed in his 1955 painting Le coeur du monde, confirms the allusion to chess pieces that is already implied in the stylized, cut-off representation of the horse’s head. The symbolic associations of chess pieces and the complexities and infinite possibilities of the game appealed to many of the Surrealists - Man Ray, Duchamp and Ernst were keen players as was Magritte – and here it serves to increase the range of meanings that could be associated with the horse. The horse had always been significant within Magritte’s œuvre. His 1926 painting Le jockey perdu, was acknowledged by the artist to be among his most important early works, and from the first Magritte was associated with the figure of the lost jockey. In this sense the horse is associated with ideas of escape, but also with the nightmarish suggestion of a point of no return. The horse continued to be a ‘problem’ that Magritte sought to reconcile in his work, addressing it in the present work through a direct assessment of the singular relationship between horse and man. David Sylvester characterizes this treatment of the horse motif specifically within the context of Magritte’s problem-solution theory, writing, “It seems a classic case of a Magritte ‘problem’, with the ‘problem’ as hair and the solution the affinity between human tresses and an animal’s mane. Such interchangeability of human with animal is part of the strong fairy-tale element in works of this year” (D. Sylvester, op. cit., p. 336). The first paintings of animals in this style appeared in the 1940s, when the series included a Pomeranian dog and a pig. Sarah Whitfield explains the inspiration behind them: “In the course of his search for ‘a new poetic effectiveness which would bring us both charm and pleasure’, Magritte had the idea of painting animals with human characteristics… Writing to a friend about the painting of the horse Magritte told him that the impression it made was ‘fairy-like’, and fairy tales in which animals dress, talk and behave like humans were, of course, the inspiration for this brief interlude of painting ‘animal’ portraits. Magritte’s intentions were to show that the human qualities of animals were superior to those of man” (S. Whitfield, Magritte (exhibition catalogue), The South Bank Centre, London, 2002).