Lot 9
  • 9

René Magritte

200,000 - 300,000 EUR
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  • René Magritte
  • La Traversée difficile
  • signé magritte (en bas à droite)
  • gouache sur papier
  • 24,8 x 18,7 cm ; 9 3/4 x 7 3/8 in.


Robert Benayoun, Paris
Galerie Zerbib, Paris
Galerie Ida Salomon, Paris
Acquis auprès du précédent par le propriétaire actuel


Executed on wove paper, not laid down, hinged to the mount in two places along the upper edge. There is slight undulation to the sheet due to the application of medium. There is a very small humidity stain towards the upper left corner and a few faint small spots of foxing. There are some tape and paper remains from a previous mounting on the reverse of the sheet. This work is in very good condition.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

signed 'Magritte' (lower right), gouache on paper. Executed circa 1958.

Homère, qui était aveugle, a fabriqué les images en même temps que le mythe. Osons le raccourci : Magritte n’est-il pas de cette trempe "pantocratique" ? Apparaissant pour la première fois en 1926 dans une toile comme La Naissance d’une idole, le bilboquet est tantôt objet réduit à sa verticalité inanimée, tantôt sujet et témoin cyclopéin. Il en va ainsi comme dans La Traversée difficile où trois bilboquets particulièrement attentifs scrutent une mer écumante où chavire un navire (peut-être est-il celui d’Ulysse).

Objets, textures, couleurs, styles : comme sur une table de dissection, du heurt de ceux-ci naît une image comme celle-là. Enigmatique.
Ces rapprochements déconcertants et fascinants se jouent notamment entre le stoïcisme des trois bilboquets au premier plan et la situation apocalyptique du bateau au second plan, le minéral des pierres de la forteresse au premier plan et le sulfureux velours du rideau qui ouvre en même temps qu’il ferme la perspective, le ludique du jeu (le jeu du bilboquet) et le drame de la vie (le naufrage), le ton glacial des gris et le cramoisi rouge, l’hyperréalisme des choses et le romantisme tempétueux de la marine.

La Traversée difficile est une incandescence : une nouvelle image a surgi. Elle est aussi un nouveau monde.


Homer, who was blind, created images at the same time as myth. Let us dare to make the ellipsis: Was Magritte not of this same “pantocratic” fiber?
Appearing for the first time in 1926 in a work such as La Naissance d’une idole, the cup and ball game is at times an object reduced to its inanimate verticality, at times cyclopean subject and witness.
The same goes for The Difficult Crossing where three particularly attentive cup and balls scrutinize a frothy sea where a boat rocks and rolls (perhaps it belongs to Ulysses).

Objects, textures, colours, styles: as if on a dissection table, from the encounter of this is born an enigmatic image.
These disturbing and fascinating comparisons are played out notably between the stoicism of the three cup and balls in the foreground and the apocalyptic situation of the boat in the background, the mineral aspect of the fortress’ stones in the foreground and the sulfurous velvet of the curtain which opens at the same as it closes the perspective, the playful aspect of the game (the cup and ball game) and the drama of life (the shipwreck), the icy tone of grey and the crimson red, the hyperrealism of things and the tempestuous romanticism of sailing.

The Difficult Crossing is an incandescence: a new image has emerged. It is also a new world.