Lot 205
  • 205

RENÉ MAGRITTE | La table, l'océan et le fruit

500,000 - 700,000 EUR
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  • René Magritte
  • La table, l'océan et le fruit
  • signed magritte (lower right); titled La table, l'océan et le fruit (on the stretcher)
  • oil on canvas
  • 50 x 65,2 cm; 19 /58 x 25 5/8 in.
  • Painted in 1927.


Oscar Mairlot, Brussels
Thence by descent to the present owner


Brussels, Galerie L'Epoque, René Magritte, 1928, no. 6
Charleroi, Salle de la Bourse, concert in series Musique de chambre, including 'l'exposition de quelques toiles de René Magritte', 1929, no. 14
Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts & Paris, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Rétrospective Magritte, 1978-79, no. 52, illustrated in the catalogue np
Brussels, Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, René Magritte et le surréalisme en Belgique, 1982, no. 148, illustrated in the catalogue p. 102
Lausanne, Fondation de l'Hermitage, René Magritte, 1987, no. 13, illustrated in the catalogue np and p. 174
Munich, Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, René Magritte, 1987-88, no. 19, illustrated in the catalogue np
Madrid, Fundación Juan March, Magritte, 1989, no. 13, illustrated in the catalogue p. 39 and p. 100
Verona, Galleria d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Palazzo Forti, Da Magritte a ettirgaM, 1991, no. 24, illustrated in the catalogue p. 74
Paris, Musée d'Art Moderne de la ville de Paris, L'art en Belgique, Flandre et Wallonie au XXe siècle, un point de vue, 1991, no. 129, illustrated in the catalogue p. 262
Brussels, Musée d'Art Moderne, L'avant-garde en Belgique 1917-1929, 1992, no. 213, illustrated in the catalogue p. 200
New York, The Museum of Modern Art & Londres, Hayward Gallery, Objects of Desire: The Modern Still Life, 1997-98, no. 77, illustrated in the catalogue p. 147
Montreal, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, Magritte, 1996, no. 24, illustrated in the catalogue p. 114
Brussels, Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, René Magritte 1898-1967, 1998, no. 49, illustrated in the catalogue p. 83
Barcelona, Fundació Joan Miró, Magritte, 1998, no. 65, illustrated in the catalogue p. 144
San Francisco, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Magritte, 2000, no. 23, illustrated in the catalogue np


David Sylvester & Sarah Whitfield, René Magritte, catalogue raisonné I : Oil Paintings 1916-1930, Antwerp, 1992, no. 175, illustrated p. 241
Les essentiels de l'art, Magritte, Ghent-Amsterdam, 2001, illustrated p. 46


Please contact the Impressionist and Modern Art Department for the condition report for this lot.
"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

"Everything suggests that there is little relation between an object and that which represents it." Magritte's aphorism reflects the painter's questioning of the relationship between word and image present throughout his work and of which La Table, l'océan et le fruit is one of the first illustrations. Magritte begun his series of "word- paintings" in October 1927 with the work La Clé des songes and then La Table, l'océan et le fruit. In his paintings, the painter combines words and images on the canvas, questioning the conventions of language. Where other artists, such as Miró, introduce words into their works in order to reinforce the meaning of the images, Magritte, on the contrary calls into question the relationship between the two, asserting the right to dissociate the image from the word that corresponds to it. This dissociation is particularly present two years later in the painting La trahison des images (1929, Los Angeles County Museum) in which Magritte depicted a pipe under which he wrote "Ceci n'est pas une pipe" (This is not a pipe), reminding us that the realistic image of an object remains an image and that an object's identification  with a word is purely arbitrary.

This position, crucial for an understanding of Magritte's work, was resumed by the painter in a manifesto published in issue number 12 of La Revolution Surréaliste in December 1929 under the title of "Les mots et les images". In this text accompanied by drawings, Magritte drew up an inventory of the relationships he had established between words and images in his paintings. There were eighteen cases in all, which question every time the link, arbitrary in the artist's eyes, between a thing's name and the thing itself.

By doing so, in a broad reflection on reality and illusion, Magritte questions our system of pictorial or linguistic representation: according to the artist, the relation established between the thing, the name, and the image only makes sense within a system of representation recognised by everyone, within a convention. The name or the image cannot indeed substitute the thing and the resemblance between image and object is only one criterion among others. As Suzi Gablik describes, "through his paintings which represent words and images, Magritte seeks to highlight the confusions and excessive simplifications so deeply rooted in our language habits that we do not notice them." (in Magritte, Brussels, 1978). Shown in January 1928 at L'Epoque gallery, La Table, l'océan et le fruit takes a full part in this singular approach, that André Breton qualified as "a unique, rigorous enterprise, on the edge of the physical and the mental."