• The Art of the Surreal Evening auction at Christies

    Sale 7903

    The Art of the Surreal Evening Sale

    2 February 2010, London, King Street

  • Lot 108

    René Magritte (1898-1967)

    La robe du soir

    Price Realised  


    René Magritte (1898-1967)
    La robe du soir
    signed 'Magritte' (lower right)
    gouache on paper
    17¼ x 13¼ in. (44 x 33.5 cm.)
    Executed in 1955

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    La robe du soir was created by Magritte for the Belgian writer Jan-Albert Goris, who had served as a high-ranking civil servant and was also, under the pen name Marnix Gijsen, one of Belgium's most prolific twentieth-century authors. It was in 1955 that Goris had written to Magritte asking about the oil painting La robe du soir, painted earlier that year. Magritte confessed that he had already promised it to another collector, but that he would make a gouache, 'just as I usually do with each new picture' and offer it to Goris for a lower price (Magritte, quoted in D. Sylvester (ed.), op. cit., p. 331). This picture, then, provides a fascinating insight into the relationship between the author and the artist, and also into the habits, taste and personality of each.

    Magritte had created the original La robe du soir around March of 1955. It was a variation on two other pictures, in which a bowler-hatted man was shown with a crescent moon above his head. Of course, in a sense there is little 'surreal' or impossible in La robe du soir: a naked woman looks out over a seascape, the moon in the sky above her head. Yet somehow, through that mysterious Magrittean alchemy, the two elements become more associated. Indeed, in this picture the woman appears to be Magritte's own vision of the huntress goddess Diana, so often shown with the crescent moon with which she is associated in her hair.

    In a letter discussing the oil version, Magritte explained that it was his friend, the Belgian Surrealist poet Paul Colinet, who had thought of the title, 'which gave me a blue sensation' (Magritte, quoted in D. Sylvester (ed.), op. cit., Vol.III, p. 241). Certainly the picture, dominated by the sea and the night sky, is filled with that sensation of blue... It is a telling indication of the estimation in which Magritte himself held the image that he referred to the oil as, 'a masterpiece in preparation' (Magritte, quoted in ibid., p. 241).

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 17.5% will be added to the buyer's premium, which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Jan Albert Goris, Antwerp, by whom acquired directly from the artist in October-November 1955, and thence by descent to the present owners.

    Pre-Lot Text



    Letter from Magritte to Goris, 17 September 1955, in Manteau, 1984, p. 77.
    Letter from Magritte to Goris, October 1955, in Manteau, 1984, p. 78.
    D. Sylvester (ed.), René Magritte, catalogue raisonné, gouaches, temperas, watercolours and papier collés 1918-1967, vol. IV, London, 1994, no. app. 168, p. 331.


    New York, Albert Landry Galleries, René Magritte in New York Private Collections, October - November 1961, no. 41.
    Minneapolis, Walker Art Center, The Vision of René Magritte, September - October 1962, no. 63.