The picture within a picture – a canvas on a stretcher with holes in the shape of a glass, a pipe, a key and a bird – calls to mind Magritte’s experiments with the technique of papier collé. At the same time, it presents the dichotomy of the hidden and the revealed, of presence and absence, challenging the viewer’s perception of the visible world. The image of sleigh bells first appeared in a work of 1926, where they appear to be suspended in a narrow space. Sarah Whitfield wrote: ‘Like the best of Magritte’s invented objects, the cluster of metal bells is rich in allusion, to moons, planets and other celestial bodies, to the balloonists he said he saw as a child, to the children’s pastime of blowing soap bubbles, and not least to another painting, Max Ernst’s Monument to the birds of 1927, which was reproduced in the issue of La Révolution surréaliste of 15 March 1928’ (S. Whitfield in Magritte (exhibition catalogue), The Hayward Gallery, London (and travelling), 1992-93, n.p., note to no. 38).
In February and March 1937 Magritte stayed with the poet and Surrealist art collector Edward James in London, and it was through James that he was introduced to the artistic and literary circles in England. In February he gave a lecture at the London Gallery, during an exhibition of Belgian painting. In 1938 the London Gallery was taken over by E.L.T. Mesens and Roland Penrose, who soon afterwards organised an exhibition of Magritte’s work, and became instrumental in promoting Surrealism in England. Penrose, the main proponent of British Surrealism, acquired Le rendez-vous after the 1938 exhibition, and it remained in his collection for 35 years.
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