- René Magritte
- La Voix du sang
- Signed magritte (lower left)
- Gouache on paper
- 9 1/2 by 7 1/2 in.
- 24.1 by 19 cm
Stephen Mazoh & Co., New York
Acquired from the above on December 6, 1984
Houston, Rice Museum, Rice University, 1985, (on loan)
Stephen Mazoh, Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Works of Art, 1984, illustrated in color on the cover & pl. 5
David Sylvester, Sarah Whitfield & Michael Raeburn, eds., René Magritte, Catalogue raisonné, London, 1994, vol. IV, no. 1236, illustrated p. 89
In the present work, Magritte develops an idea that he had initially explored in his 1935 painting L’Arbre savant, making a number of significant changes from the original composition that showed a lifeless, rootless tree-cabinet in an interior. As David Sylvester writes: “the scene is now nocturnal, the tree in full leaf, and there are now three cupboards, as against four, in the trunk; the top one, as before, is ajar, the others contain a sphere and a house” (D. Sylvester, S. Whitfield & M. Raeburn, eds., René Magritte, Catalogue raisonné, London, 1993, vol. II, p. 384). The division of the tree into three compartments is an elaboration of a device that Magritte had used as early as 1926 and returned to in some of the most important works of his oeuvre. In these compositions he divided the pictorial space into a series of distinct pictures, often set within a freestanding frame, that provide a glimpse of another world. The unifying quality of these images – whether the façade of a house, a blue sky or a wall of fire – is that they all hint at the possibility of another world that remains concealed from the viewer. Conversely, in La Voix du sang the house and the sphere are presented like curiosities in a Kunstkammer placing the emphasis on their status as objects and allowing Magritte to playfully integrate the relationship between tree, wood and furniture.
The idea of doorways leading into other worlds was another major theme in Magritte’s oeuvre. Claude Spaak has suggested that the initial inspiration for this particular incarnation came from Lewis Carroll’s classic, Alice in Wonderland and David Sylvester has further suggested that the specific imagery Magritte employs was probably influenced by an illustration of the cork harvest found in the Petit Larousse. Magritte offered a further explanation in his 1948 Titres when he provided the following commentary on the title of the work: “The words dictated to us by the blood sometimes appear foreign to us. Here, the blood seems to command us to open up magic recesses in the trees” (quoted in D. Sylvester, S. Whitfield & M. Raeburn, eds., Op. cit., p. 98).