• Impressionist/Modern Works on  auction at Christies

    Sale 2312

    Impressionist/Modern Works on Paper Featuring Property from the Collection of Mrs Sidney F. Brody

    5 May 2010, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 268

    Rene Magritte (1898-1967)

    La durée poignardée

    Price Realised  


    Rene Magritte (1898-1967)
    La durée poignardée
    signed and inscribed 'Magritte' (lower center)
    pen and India ink on paper
    Image size: 8 x 6 1/8 in. (20.3 x 15.6 cm.)
    Sheet size: 10½ x 8 1/8 in. (26.7 x 20.6 cm.)
    Drawn circa 1938

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    The Fondation René Magritte has confirmed the authenticity of this drawing.

    The present work is a letter from Magritte to his friend, the Belgian surrealist writer and artist, Marcel Mariën. In it he has included a sketch of the painting of La durée poignardée ("Time Transfixed") (Sylvester, vol. II, no. 460; fig. 1), and briefly discusses its title. The artist often invited suggestions from his Surrealist literary compatriots in Belgium for the titles to his paintings. Although the titles of his earlier works are often logical, images and titles gradually became independent from each other. Magritte consistently resisted any sort of explanatory title, insisting that they were not meant to help interpret or define the work. Instead, as with the visual impact of his painting, he wanted poetic titles that would surprise and enchant rather than instruct, thus opening the door to the viewer's imagination.

    According to Mariën, the solution for the title to La durée poignardée came to Magritte in a flash, in contrast to the usual long, and deliberate search which the artist would undertake. "The problem of the train may have triggered memories of de Chirico, for the conjunction of a clock and a train is a device used more than once by the painter to suggest the arrest of time bringing together two unrelated objects such as a steam engine and a fireplace was standard surrealist practice, but in his search for the affinity that binds one object to another Magritte brings his own brand of logic into play. Not only does the opening in a fireplace suggest the mouth of a railway tunnel but the steam engine and the fireplace are both activated by fuel. The engine is depicted on a miniature scale to become another of Magrittes portable objects" (S. Whitfield, Magritte, exh. cat., South Bank Centre, London, 1992, no. 81).

    (fig. 1) René Magritte, Time Transfixed, 1938. The Art Institute of Chicago, The Joseph Winterbotham Collection.


    Marcel Mariën, Brussels.
    Anon. sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 25 March 1982, lot 12.
    Private collection, Tokyo (acquired at the above sale).
    Acquired from the above by the present owner.


    P. Waldberg, Rene Magritte, Brussels, 1966, p. 37 (detail illustrated).