René Magritte (1898-1967)
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René Magritte (1898-1967)

La Joconde, Mona Lisa

René Magritte (1898-1967)
La Joconde, Mona Lisa
signed and numbered 'Magritte 1/5' (on the top of the base)
bronze with brown patina
Height: 99 in. (251.5 cm.)
Length: 70 in. (177.8 cm.)
Width: 39 1/2 in. (100.3 cm.)
Conceived in 1967 and cast in an edition of five plus one épreuve d'artiste
Alexandre Iolas, Paris.
P. Rouve, 'Space Conquered', in Art and Artists, London, August 1968, pp. 24-27.
R. Melville, 'Changing the World', in The Architectural Review, London, September 1968, p. 210.
A. Iolas, Magritte: The 8 sculptures, exh. cat., Paris, 1969 (another cast illustrated).
S. Gablik, Magritte, London, 1970 (another cast illustrated no. 161).
A.M. Hammacher, Magritte, London, 1974, no. 62 (another cast illustrated p. 54).
H. Torczyner, Magritte: Signs and Images, New York, 1977 (another cast illustrated p. 255).
J. Pierre, Magritte, Paris, 1984 (another cast illustrated p. 119).
P. Gimferrer, Magritte, New York, 1987 (another cast illustrated no. 144).
S. Whitfield, Magritte, exh. cat., London, 1992 (another cast illustrated no. 168).
D. Sylvester ed., René Magritte, Catalogue Raisonné, vol. III, Oil Paintings, Objects and Bronzes 1949-1967, London, 1993, no. 1094 (another cast illustrated p. 466).
M. Draguet & V. Devillez, Magritte, son oeuvre, son musée, exh. cat., Brussels, 2009, p. 216 (another cast illustrated).
S. Gohr, Magritte, Attempting the Impossible, New York, 2009, no. 424, p. 308 (another cast illustrated p. 309).
Paris, Galerie Isy Brachot, Magritte, September - November 1989 (another cast illustrated p. 54).
Brussels, Galerie Isy Brachot, Perspectives - Prospectives, November - December 1990 (another cast illustrated p. 48).
Paris, Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume, Magritte, February - June 2003, p. 210 (another cast illustrated).
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Lot Essay

Standing almost two and a half metres tall, La Joconde is one of a small group of large-scale bronze sculptures that each took the theme of one of his paintings, in this case the 1960 oil La Joconde, and translated it into three dimensions. Magritte had spent a great deal of time researching his own back catalogue of paintings in order to find subjects that he felt would benefit from being brought
into three dimensions. These were then skilfully cast according to his designs by the Gibiesse foundry in Verona.

Looking at La Joconde, it is clear why this subject was one of the handful that appealed: it plays with concepts of flatness, distance and depth. The curtains, shown in a formation without the usual context of a window, hint at a world behind them, and yet in reality
they conceal nothing. Originally, Magritte had intended to add another level to this conceptual somersaulting by having a skyscape stencilled onto one of the curtains, thereby questioning the fabric of the solid and ethereal subjects depicted, heightening the tension, and making a more overt reference to the painting upon which it was based. It is a tribute to the success of this sculpture that David
Sylvester would refer to it as one of the 'flattest pieces' before going on to say that it 'is one of the great successes, despite the fact that the original intention to paint on the bronze was not carried out. Obviously the success of the whole enterprise was due partly to Magritte's sense of scale and partly to the rightness of the choice of images' (D. Sylvester, Magritte, Brussels, 2009, p. 399).
The original painting, La Joconde, was one which recurred in Magritte's works in a number of iterations. The title was apparently 'discovered' by Suzi Gablik, the art historian who essentially lived with Magritte for several months and wrote one of the most authoritative monographs on the artist (see D. Sylvester, S. Whitfield & M. Raeburn, René Magritte, Catalogue Raisonné, vol. III, London, 1993, p. 336). That it reappeared in Magritte's sculpture reveals its persistent attraction to the artist: even during this stage of his career, he was creating motifs which had an enduring fascination for him.

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