• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 8774

    Impressionist & Modern Paintings, Drawings & Sculpture Pt II

    12 November 1997, New York, Park Avenue

  • Lot 294

    Rene Magritte (1898-1967)

    Le Prêtre marié

    Price Realised  


    Rene Magritte (1898-1967)
    Le Prêtre marié
    signed bottom right 'Magritte'--titled and dated on the reverse 'Le prêtre Marié 1958'
    oil on masonite
    15¾ x 11¾in. (40 x 30cm.)
    Painted October-November, 1958

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    The subject of the "masked apples" first appeared in an oil painting of 1950 titled La Valse hésitation (Sylvester, no. 726) and Magritte returned to this theme a number of times, including it in his mural for the Knokke-le-Zoute Casino Communal, La Domaine enchantée in 1953 (Sylvester, no. 792). Magritte probably took the title from Barbey d'Aureville's book Le Prêtre Marié ("The Married Priest"), to which the artist referred in a letter of 1944. In addition to the contradiction expressed in the title itself, Magritte plays visually upon the erotic associations of the apple as a symbol of carnal knowledge, and the tantalizing appeal of a disguised object of desire, giving the apples a curiously human aspect.

    This idea of a strange romantic affinity is further enhanced by the moonlit setting. Magritte also painted a parallel series of works in which the masked apples occupy a sunlit landscape; he titled these La Valse hésitation ("The Hesitation Waltz"), which again evokes and unites two contradictory activities.


    Alexander Iolas Gallery, New York (acquired from the artist, 1958; acquired by the present owner, 1960)

    Pre-Lot Text

    Property of a


    ed. D. Sylvester, René Magrite, Catalogue Raisonné, London, 1993, vol. III (Oil Paintings, Objects and Bronzes, 1949-1967), no. 889 (illustrated, p. 300)


    New York, Alexander Iolas Gallery, 1959