Lot 13
  • 13

René Magritte

2,000,000 - 3,000,000 USD
2,170,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • René Magritte
  • Le Jockey perdu
  • Signed Magritte (upper right)
  • Gouache on paper
  • 25 1/2 by 19 7/8 in.
  • 64.8 by 50.5 cm


Galleria Internazionale, Milan

Private Collection (acquired from the above circa 1960s and sold: Christie's, London, February 4, 2008, lot 159)

Acquired at the above sale


Milan, Galleria Internazionale, no.166 (referenced in the catalogue raisonné)


Christoph Grunenberg, Magritte A to Z, London, 2011, illustrated in color p. 79

Sarah Whitfield, René Magritte, Newly Discovered Works, Catalogue Raisonné VI, Oil Paintings, Gouaches, Drawings, New Haven & London, 2012, no. 40, illustrated in color p. 61

Catalogue Note

Le Jockey perdu is an exquisite, large-scale gouache from one of the artist's most riveting series. Magritte first included the subject of the 'lost jockey' in a painting of 1926, a painting which headlined his first one-man exhibition in 1927 at Galerie Le Centaure in Brussels. One of very few Surrealists in Belgium in the mid-1920s, Magritte quickly established himself as a defining player by creating a figurative aesthetic that was both irrational and psychologically poignant. Upon moving to Paris, Magritte was eagerly brought into André Breton’s inner circle. Magritte gave to the Surrealists as much as he learned from them, while simultaneously reappropriating tenets of cubism and futurism, both of which informed the dynamism and geometry of the present work.

Magritte repeated this motif of Le Jockey perdu numerous times throughout his long career and the present work is one of the last recorded rendition of the series. David Sylvester comments on the original Le Jockey perdu: “It was seen from the very start as something special – and not just by the artist. A few months after it was realized it became the first of [Magritte’s] Surrealist paintings to be reproduced – and the first of any of his paintings to be reproduced abroad – when it represented his work in an article by Camille Goemans published on 1 September 1926” (David Sylvester, René Magritte, Catalogue Raisonné, I: Oil Paintings 1916-1930, London, 1992, p. 169).

Le Jockey perdu presents a juxtaposition of opposites – the paradox of concealing and revealing, the contrast between breakneck speed and still levitation, and the overlay of interior and exterior settings. Magritte's imagery often thrived on these semantic paradoxes and his choice of title here amplifies the effect. The “lost jockey” is arguably an oxymoronic concept that urges the viewer to confront how a jockey, who seldom abandons his circular track, could have possibly lost his way.

Le Jockey perdu grew in size between 1926 and 1964 when this last version was painted, perhaps due to the artist’s personal interest in, and his lifelong evolution of, this motif. Sara Whitfield suggests that the present work may have been realized with Magritte's dealer, Alexander Iolas, in mind.  Whitfield points to a group of gouaches Magritte executed around 1963 which are also in a larger-than-usual format (Sara Whitfield, René Magritte, Newly Discovered Works, Catalogue Raisonné VI, 2012, Houston & Brussels, p. 61).