Lot 204
  • 204


250,000 - 350,000 EUR
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  • René Magritte
  • Paysage
  • signed René Magritte and dated 1-9-2-0 (lower left)
  • tempera on cardboard laid down on panel
  • 82,1 x 63,6 cm; 32 3/8 x 25 in.
  • Painted circa 1920.


Charles Alexandre, Brussels
Oscar Mairlot, Brussels
Thence by descent to the present owner


Brussels, Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Vers une plastique pure, Les premiers abstraits belges 1918-1930, 1972, no. 64 (titled Paysage brabançon)
Tokyo, Musée National d'Art Moderne & Yamaguchi, Musée préfectoral de Yamaguchi, René Magritte, 1988, no. 6, illustrated in the catalogue p. 44
London, The Hayward Gallery; New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Houston, The Menil Collection & Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, Magritte, 1992-1993, no. 127, illustrated in the catalogue np
Brussels, Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, René Magritte 1898-1967, 1998, no. 7, illustrated in the catalogue p. 53


David Sylvester & Sarah Whitfield, René Magritte, Catalogue Raisonné, Gouaches, Temperas, Watercolours and Papiers Collés, Volume IV: 1918- 1967, New York, 1993, no. 1098, illustrated p. 5


The board is stable. Examination under UV light reveals some scattered dots and thin lines of retouching, most predominately in the white pigment, to the central shape and to the upper part of right and left edges. The extreme edges are slightly scuffed. There are a few scattered pinholes and minor surface scratches, possibly original. There are some small areas of stable craquelure with a few associated flecks of paint losses, notably along the extreme edges and in the white pigment. The board is slightly light stained. There is some foxing in the blue pigment (visible in the catalogue illustration). This work is in overall 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

The 1920s were a period of intense creativity for the young Magritte who developed his style, drawing upon various influences. His encounter with E.L.T. Mesens in 1920 was fundamental. Together, the two artists constituted the exhibition catalogues of different movements, first of all that of the Futurist movement. In their catalogue raisonné of Magritte's work, David Sylvester and Sarah Whitfield make a link between this work and a futurist painting by Natalia Gontcharova, that both artists could have discovered in the exhibition catalogue Ester deutcher Herbtsalon organized by the Der Sturm movement in 1913. Both works indeed present important similarities in terms of composition, the figure of the tree in the center which becomes the support for an ascending movement. Rather than using a tangle of lines, Magritte creates a network of coloured boxes that fit into each other in order to generate a dynamic impulse.

According to Mesens; "Magritte [...] painted under different influences: that of Matisse, the futurists, Albert Gleizes rather than Picasso. He knew most of these painters only through reproductions." (Mesens, in 'René Magritte', Peintres belges contemporains, Brussels, 1947, p.157). If the futurist influence is particularly noticeable in this landscape, Magritte also drew on the innovations of the cubist artists, mainly obvious in the use of rhythmic squares and colours depicted in flat planes. It is also interesting to note that the tree was for Mondrian one of the key subjects of his endeavour to purify the subject, pushing the cubist principles to their paroxysm and keeping only the elementary and structural lines from his subject which will lead him to abstraction. Mingling the background with form, Magritte's treatment of the subject in this composition opens up a poetic dimension that announces the later works. However much the works from this period are situated on the edge of abstraction, Magritte always wished to work on the real, choosing for this work the traditional title of Paysage or landscape. "I ended up finding in the appearance of the real world itself the same abstraction as in the paintings, because despite the complicated combinations of details and nuance of a real landscape, I could see it as if it were only a curtain placed in front of my eyes." (Magritte, extract form the conference La ligne de vie, 1938)