Lot 4
  • 4

René Magritte

900,000 - 1,200,000 USD
1,690,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • René Magritte
  • L'Appel des cimes
  • Signed Magritte (lower left); signed Magritte, titled and dated 1948 on the reverse
  • Gouache and pencil on paper


International Galleries, Chicago

Mrs. Ruth Kunin, Chicago (acquired from the above in 1962)

Edward Kunin & Shelley Marczac, Chicago (by descent from the above and sold: Sotheby’s, New York, November 2, 1978, lot 158A)

Private Collection (acquired at the above sale)

Sale: Sotheby’s New York, November 14, 1985, lot 171

Acquired at the above sale by the present owner


Paris, Art Gallery Agora, 1979, n.n.


David Sylvester, ed., Sarah Whitfield & Michael Raeburn, René Magritte, Catalogue Raisonné, IV: Gouaches, Temperas, Watercolours and Papiers Collés 1918-1967, London, 1994, no. 1288, illustrated p. 118

Catalogue Note

L'Appel des cimes is a remarkable example of Magritte's mysterious iconography, combining everyday images in an unexpected manner, thus playing on the viewer's perceptions and questioning established relationships and meanings. The artist used here some of the most recognizable images from his pictorial vocabulary, discovering ever new possibilities. Several of Magritte's recurrent motifs are combined in the present work, and what connects them is the paradox of the visible and the invisible, of the solid and the intangible.  This "picture within a picture" is one of Magritte's great examples of trompe l'oeil, and he further challenges our perception of his work by incorporating disjunctive elements within his composition. Among the jagged peaks of the mountain top appears the head of an eagle, entirely unexpected but an oddly fitting element within this majestic landscape.

The disconnect between the subject of this picture and its title was typical for Magritte's best compositions. Titles were often assigned to his paintings upon completion and very frequently decided upon by his friends. An informative title, Magritte believed, denied the viewer the experience of using his imagination when confronted with a given image. This was specifically true for the image of the tree, which was a favourite subject for the artist. In later years, Magritte told André Breton that using a descriptive title for his tree compositions mislead the viewer and undermined the greater significance of his subject: 'To name the image of a tree "Tree" is an error, a "mistaken identity," since the image of a tree is separate from what it shows' (quoted in Harry Torczyner, Magritte: Ideas and Images, New York, 1977, p. 109).