• 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 112

    René Magritte (1898-1967)

    L'oeil de la montagne

    Price Realised  


    René Magritte (1898-1967)
    L'oeil de la montagne
    signed 'Magritte' (lower right); titled 'L'OEIL DE LA MONTAGNE' (on the overlap)
    oil on canvas
    28 7/8 x 21¼ in. (73.5 x 54 cm.)
    Painted in 1928

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Contact the department

    Painted in 1928, L'oeil de la montagne dates from the early years of Magritte's involvement with the Surrealists. During this time, he was living with his wife Georgette in Paris, and was often involved with André Breton and his circle, having been welcomed by them some time earlier. Despite the fact that he had been painting in a Surreal manner for only a few years, the immediacy of his striking visions such as L'oeil de la montagne had made a great impact on his contemporaries.

    In several of Magritte's earlier oils, a fusion can be detected of a range of source ideas, references and influences. In its organic form, the strange, dark, eclipse-like sun in this painting recalls both the creatures in some of thee early paintings of Max Ernst, one of Magritte's great touchstones, and of the pictures of Joan Miró. Magritte's friend, the writer and art dealer Camille Goemans, had spent some of 1927 living in Ernst's Paris studio in his absence, and later secured more permanent accommodation there; Miró had his own studio in the same building. Another artist who seems to be obliquely referenced in L'oeil de la montagne is Vincent van Gogh: this hovering entity appears as some dark reincarnation of his celebrated sunflowers. This range of references has been mingled in order to bring out a purely idiosyncratic, signature vision of the artist. This inverted sun, a black hole lurking above its rocky landscape, is perhaps some mysterious portal; Magritte has deliberately painted it in what appears to be a different style, throwing the entire nature of representation into question. It is a tribute to the importance of L'oeil de la montagne that it was formerly in the collection of Magritte's friend, supporter and fellow Belgian Surrealist, E.L.T. Mesens.

    Special Notice

    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 17.5% on the buyer's premium.


    E.L.T. Mesens, London, by whom probably acquired from Galerie Le Cantaure in 1932-1933.
    Harold Diamond, New York, by whom acquired from the above in 1959-1960. Reiss-Cohen Gallery, New York.
    Anonymous sale, Sotheby's, New York, 15 October 1969, lot 70.
    Galerie Beyeler, Basel (no. 2507).
    Anonymous sale, Galerie Motte, Geneva, 1 March 1975.
    Anonymous sale, Christie's, London, 27 June 1978, lot 64.


    L'Oeil, Paris, November 1969 (illustrated on the cover).
    D. Sylvester (ed.), René Magritte, catalogue raisonné, oil paintings 1916-1930, vol. I, Antwerp, 1992, no. 235 (illustrated p. 284).


    Basel, Galerie Beyeler, Moon and Space, January - February 1970, no. 46.
    Basel, Galerie Beyeler, Venus, September - October 1972, no. 58.
    Basel, Galerie Beyeler, Surréalisme et Peinture, February - April 1974, no. 45.