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René Magritte (1898-1967)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
René Magritte (1898-1967)

La femme du maçon

René Magritte (1898-1967)
La femme du maçon
signed 'Magritte' (lower left); inscribed 'La femme du maçon' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
13¾ x 16 1/8 in. (35 x 41 cm.)
Painted in 1958
Alexander Iolas, Paris, by whom acquired from the artist.
Private collection, by whom acquired from the above in the mid-1960s.
Galleria La Medusa, Rome.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1971.
L. Scutenaire, 'L'ouevre peint de René Magritte', in Savoir et beauté, La Louvière, 1961, p. 2418.
Le fait accompli, no. 34-35, Brussels, April 1970 (illustrated).
J. Vovelle, Le Surréalisme en Belgique, Brussels, 1972, (illustrated p. 126).
D. Slyvester (ed.), René Magritte, Catalogue Raisonné, Oil Paintings, Objects and Bronzes 1949-1967, vol. III, London, 1993, no. 892 (illustrated p. 302).
R. Hughes, The Portable Magritte, New York, 2002 (illustrated p. 345).
Rotterdam, West-Flandre Hainaut, December 1958 - January 1959.
Brussels, Musée d'Ixelles, Magritte, April - May 1959, no. 106.
Paris, Galerie Rive Droite, René Magritte, February - March 1960, no. 8.
Houston, University of St. Thomas, Constant Companions, October 1964 - February 1965, no. 282.
Rome, Galleria La Medusa, Maestri Europei, 1971, no. 19 (illustrated).
New York, Davlyn Gallery, Magritte, November 1974 - January 1975, no. 10.
Cincinnati, Taft Museum, René Magritte, 1977.
Barcelona, Fundació Joan Miro, Magritte, 1998-1999 (illustrated).
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 20% on the buyer's premium.

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Annemijn van Grimbergen

Lot Essay

René Magritte's unique vision was in part based on his unceasing investigation of the way that we experience the world, and the way in which we see it. Nowhere is this fascination with the act of seeing more clear than in La femme du maçon, painted in 1958. This picture, which featured in a string of exhibitions during the artist's own lifetime, shows a woman in profile staring at a large floating leaf. Her eye, though, has been shown as vast, taking up most of her face, magnified to a fantastic and absurd degree. In this way, Magritte has created a miniature manifesto, a treatise on the act of seeing.

Magritte contemplated several variations upon the theme, creating drawings which showed a face staring with its outsized eye at the moon, a bird and a floating stone. During the course of 1958, Magritte had written to his friends the Copleys discussing the idea for this picture: 'For some time now I have been thinking of this face. In a recent painting it is looking at the leaf of a tree. But in addition Scutenaire has thought of the title "The Mason's Wife" for this picture' (Magritte, letter to the Copleys, circa 18 July 1958, quoted in D. Sylvester (ed.), S. Whitfield & M. Raeburn, René Magritte Catalogue Raisonné, Vol. III, London, 1993, p. 302). William Copley, an artist in his own right, had also run a short-lived gallery space in Beverly Hills which had important exhibitions of various Surrealists including Magritte a decade earlier.

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