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Rene Magritte (1898-1967)
PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE BELGIAN COLLECTION
Rene Magritte (1898-1967)

Le thérapeute

Details
Rene Magritte (1898-1967)
Le thérapeute
signed 'Magritte' (upper right)
gouache on paper
18¾ x 12 3/8 in. (47.6 x 31.3 cm.)
Painted in 1936
Provenance
E.L.T. Mesens, Brussels.
Betty Barman, Brussels (acquired from the above, 1954).
Leon Kerner, Brussels (by 1967).
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1983.
Literature
H. Torczyner, René Magritte: Signes et images, Paris, 1977, p. 172 (illustrated).
D. Sylvester, S. Whitfield and M. Raeburn, René Magritte, Catalogue Raisonné, London, 1994, vol. IV, p. 21, no. 1122 (illustrated).
R. Hughes, The Portable Magritte, New York, 2002, p. 430 (illustrated in color, p. 167).
Exhibited
The Hague, Huize Esher Surrey, René Magritte, November-December 1936, no. 26.
Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Trois peintres surréalistes: René Magritte, Man Ray, Yves Tanguy, December 1937, no. 7.
London, The Lefevre Gallery (Alex. Reid & Lefevre Ltd.), Paintings by René Magritte, November 1953, no. 13.
Liège, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Exposition Magritte, October-November 1960, p. 11, no. 22.
Yamaguchi, Prefectural Museum of Art and Tokyo, National Museum of Modern Art, René Magritte, April-July 1988, p. 80. no. 45 (illustrated).
Verona, Palazzo Fonti, da Magritte a Magritte, July-October 1991, p. 92, no. 42 (illustrated).
Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, René Magritte, March-June 1998, p. 237, no. 261 (illustrated in color).
Belgium, Casino Knøkke, Magritte, June-September 2001, p. 63, no. 26 (illustrated in color).

Lot Essay

Painted in 1936, the present work was Magritte's first realization of Le thérapeute and was purchased by E.L.T. Mesens; critic, close friend of the artist and leader of the Belgian surrealist movement. The popularity of Le thérapeute, or the healer, was not only due to the fact that Magritte revisited the composition following 1936 but it was to become one of Magritte's most appropriated images for advertising purposes. David Sylvester has commented, "In June 1959 Magritte's lawyer, Harry Torczyner, brought to his [Magritte's] attention a record sleeve featuring this image. Magritte reacted angrily to what he called this 'Healer plagiarism'" (quoted in D. Sylvester et al., op. cit, vol. II, p. 236).

In the present work the figure sits with his cane and his bag, clearly a traveler. Le thérapeute is faceless and posesses no specific personal qualities. His primary attribute is his cape and that which he reveals beneath it. It is possible that Magritte identified with the image of the healer and that these works are self-portraits of a sort. Certainly in later works the straw hat is replaced by Magritte's own bowler hat (Sylvester 1199) and in 1937 he even posed in the costume of the healer for photographers (fig. 1).

In the May 1948 exhibition of Magritte's work at the Hugo Gallery in New York, an oil of the same subject (Sylvester 630) was exhibited. In this catalogue Magritte discussed the significance of Le thérapeute and its role as perceived by the artist, "The Liberator inhabits a landscape whose logic does not lead to madness" (quoted in ibid., vol. II, p. 388). Perhaps that was how he viewed his role as an artist.

(fig. 1) Photograph of René Magritte as Le thérapeute, 1937.
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