Lot 49
  • 49

René Magritte

1,400,000 - 1,800,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • René Magritte
  • La Géante
  • Signed Magritte (upper left)
  • Gouache on paper


Harriet Griffin Gallery, New York

Private Collection, New Zealand (acquired from the above in May 1974)

Acquired from the above


(possibly) The Hague Center, Escher Museum, 1936, no. 23

(possibly) London Gallery, 1937, no. 17


David Sylvester, René Magritte, Catalogue Raisonné, Gouaches, Temperas, Watercolours and Papiers Collés 1918-1967, London, 1994, vol. IV, no. 1119, illustrated p. 18

Catalogue Note

Executed in 1936, La Géante features one of Magritte’s iconic ‘leaf-trees’, a reoccurring motif in many of his compositions, which first made an appearance in La Géante of 1935. The present work is strikingly similar to that first iteration. In a letter to André Breton dated July 1934, Magritte wrote about paintings he was developing as ‘solutions’ to various ‘problems’, and commented about the problem of the tree stating: “I am trying at the moment to discover what is in a tree that belongs to it specifically but which would run counter to our concept of a tree” (quoted in D. Sylvester & S. Whitfield, op. cit., p. 194). He soon found the answer to this question in the image of the tree leaf: “the tree, as the subject of a problem, became a large leaf the stem of which was a trunk directly planted in the ground. I called it ‘The giantess’ in memory of a poem by Baudelaire” (quoted in D. Sylvester & S. Whitfield, op. cit., p. 194).

Jacques Meuris wrote about the leaf image in Magritte’s painting: "Nature, as Magritte saw it, was an element with the same characteristics, mutatis mutandis, as those with which he invested every object, everything. There was no “naturalist” tendency in his work, no ecological impulse, not even a poetic transformation of the natural. Nevertheless, these leaves, alone or in groups, clad or bare, occasionally nibbled by insects, may be regarded as “individuals”, invested with multifarious feelings, endowed with charms in the various senses of the word" (J. Meuris, René Magritte, London, 1988, p. 154). Indeed in a number of compositions, the image of a man, woman, an over-sized boulder or apple would replace the leaf in front of the stone wall, as the artist experimented with the various ‘characters’ featuring in his mysterious compositions.