213
213

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE BELGIAN COLLECTION

René Magritte
LES GRÂCES NATURELLES
JUMP TO LOT
213

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE BELGIAN COLLECTION

René Magritte
LES GRÂCES NATURELLES
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Œuvres sur Papier

|
Paris

René Magritte
1898 - 1967
LES GRÂCES NATURELLES
signed magritte (lower right); titled Les Grâces naturelles and signed magritte (on the reverse)
sanguine on paper
47 x 36,6 cm; 18 1/2 x 14 3/8 in.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

The authenticity of this work has been confirmed by the Comité Magritte.

Provenance

Raymonde Becquevort, Brussels (acquired directly from the artist in 1953)
Thence by descent to the present owner

Catalogue Note

"If we imagine young girls blossoming, we can also acknowledge a bird in bloom. The emergence of this bird is as delightful as the sunrise."
René Magritte


The bird-plant in this beautiful chalk drawing, Les Grâces naturelles, is an emblematic and recurring theme of Magritte's art. This particularly graceful model of metamorphosis was acquired from the Belgian artist in 1953 by Raymond Becquevort, founder of the La Sirène gallery in Brussels. Frequented by Ponge, Artaud and Michaud, it was a major hub for the surrealist intelligentsia; a place where words discovered images.

In a similar vein, there is considerable tension between the word and the image in this artwork. Its title carries an implicit irony: hindered and deprived of movement, the bird, who cannot use its wings and has taken root, has a "natural grace". The plant transforms into a bird, the bird becomes a leaf and the two entities merge as one. This unity is reinforced here, by the monochrome of the chalk.

Magritte began developing the theme of the bird-plant in 1942, when Belgium was under Nazi occupation. He adapted this theme into infinite variations moving from chalk to gouache, then onto canvas. So often symbols of hope, here birds are poetic and neurasthenic metaphors. The assimilation of the naturally-mobile bird with the plant that is rooted deep in the earth, contributes to a troubled state of mind. Magritte is thus torn between two emotions: fear and hope.

From the end of the 1920s, Magritte became interested in the theme of transformation. He wrote in a letter to Nougé: "I think that I have made a remarkable discovery in painting. Until now I had always used composite objects, or rather, the position of an object was sometimes sufficient to make it mysterious. But, thanks to the experiences that I have had here, I have found a new potential in things - their capacity to gradually become something else, an object that blends into another object, that itself... I am therefore creating images in which the eye must "think" in a completely different way than it's used to..." (in David Sylvester, Magritte, New-York, 1992, p.128).

This process of transformation is comparable to the natural adaptations that occur in nature and the animal kingdom. Imitation as a means of protection that is a deterrent and camouflage technique of plants and animals, resonates with Les Grâces naturelles. Magritte uses this motif of the bird-plant in a full series of paintings that he named Treasure Island. Islands have very specific biological environments. Flora and fauna on islands present unusual characteristics due to their unique and enclosed ecosystems. With these composite creatures, Magritte was inspired by nature to disturb our visual habits and make the mysteries of the world visible. Magritte created an Eden, inhabited by a luxurious vegetation and abundant species of gentle animals that fuse together. Paul Nougé said of these legendary and fantastical animals: "It is not so difficult to comprehend that the Bird-leaves, the Scheherazade or the sentimental characters of Colloque belong to the famous family of mermaids, centaurs, sphynx and unicorns; and that they have inherited their lost value" (Paul Nougé, 1947).

Œuvres sur Papier

|
Paris