Press Release

One of the Most Desirable Works of Modern Art in Private Hands - Rene Magritte’s “L’Empire des Lumières” - To Make Market Debut at Sotheby’s London

By Sotheby's
Painted for Anne-Marie Gillion Crowet, Who Appears in Many of Magritte’s Greatest Works, the Enigmatic 1961 Work has Remained in Her Family Ever Since

To be Offered in March 2022 with an Estimate in Excess of $60 million
“A masterpiece of 20th-century art, L’empire des lumières brings together the two most fundamental elements of daily life – those of day and night – onto one paradoxical canvas. With its impressive scale, the cinematic painting draws the viewer into Magritte’s timeless world. Its immediacy and power encapsulate the ‘star quality’ that places Magritte firmly among the pantheon of the market’s most sought-after artists. We could not be more thrilled to start the new year by presenting this show-stopping work in London, where it represents a new benchmark both for the artist and the global art market.”
Helena Newman, Chairman of Sotheby's Europe and Worldwide Head of Impressionist & Modern Art

One of the most desirable works of modern art in private hands, and among the definitive images of Surrealist art, René Magritte’s L’empire des lumières captures the visual paradox that lies at the heart of the artist’s originality. The instantly recognisable work was created in 1961 for Baroness Anne-Marie Gillion Crowet, the daughter of Magritte’s patron the Belgian Surrealist collector Pierre Crowet, and has remained in the family ever since. Anne-Marie embodied Magritte’s aesthetic ideal, even before he actually met her. Uncannily, her likeness is found in a number of works executed before their first meeting, when he famously said to her: “Tu vois, je te peignais déjà avant de te connaître”. Thereafter she became a lifelong friend of Magritte and his wife Georgette, appearing in many of the artist’s most significant paintings. With an estimate in excess of $60 million, this masterpiece of twentieth century art will be offered as the star of Sotheby’s Modern & Contemporary Evening Auction in London on 2 March.

Exhibited worldwide in Brussels, Rome, Paris, Vienna, Milan, Seoul, Edinburgh and San Francisco, L’empire des lumières was most recently on loan to the Musée Magritte in Brussels from 2009-2020, surrounded by the finest collection of Magritte paintings in the world. Prior to the auction, the painting will be publicly exhibited in Sotheby’s galleries in Los Angeles, Hong Kong, New York and London.


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