RENÉ MAGRITTE (1898-1967)
RENÉ MAGRITTE (1898-1967)
RENÉ MAGRITTE (1898-1967)
RENÉ MAGRITTE (1898-1967)
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RENÉ MAGRITTE (1898-1967)

Le coeur du monde

RENÉ MAGRITTE (1898-1967)
Le coeur du monde
signed 'Magritte' (upper left); titled 'Le Coeur du Monde' (on card affixed to the reverse of the frame)
gouache on card
7 1⁄4 x 5 3⁄8 in. (18.2 x 13.4 cm.)
Painted circa 1955
Acquired from the artist by the late owners, circa 1960.
D. Sylvester, ed., René Magritte: Catalogue Raisonné, Gouaches, Temperas, Watercolours and Papiers Collés, 1918-1967, New York, 1994, vol. IV, p. 167, no. 1377 (illustrated).
Houston, University of St. Thomas, Constant Companions: An Exhibition of Mythological Animals, Demons and Monsters, Phantasmal Creatures and Various Anatomical Assemblages, October 1964-February 1965, no. 283.
Miami, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sweet Dreams and Nightmares: Dada and Surrealism from the Rosalind and Melvin Jacobs Collection, March-May 2000, no. 7 (illustrated in color).
New York, Pace/MacGill Gallery, The Long Arm of Coincidence: Selections from the Rosalind and Melvin Jacobs Collection, April-May 2009 (illustrated in color).
New York, Kent Gallery, Dorothea Tanning & Friends, September-November 2009, p. 66 (illustrated in color, p. 67).

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Lot Essay

Painted in 1955, Le coeur du monde is a richly worked gouache from the fantastical mind of Magritte. Infused with his beguiling form of surrealism, the gouache presents a horse in profile with luscious blonde hair, a piercing blue eye and a tower atop its head. The humanlike features ask the viewer to consider the very concept of portraiture and the personification of representation. The subject, the horse, simultaneously becomes both human and object.

Directly relating to an oil painting of the same title dated 1955 (Sylvester, no. 821; The Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh), the present work has the addition of a crescent moon set within the celestial blue sky. This variation was likely painted shortly after the oil as was the artist’s practice during this period. In a letter dated 17 September 1955, Magritte wrote it was “just as I usually do with each new picture” (quoted in. D. Sylvester, op. cit., p. 331).

Though the emergence of the horse in Magritte’s work first appeared in the oil painting Le jockey perdu in 1926 (Sylvester, no. 81), the presentation of the animal as the predominant focal point came about more resolutely in 1944 in the painting Le Méteore (Sylvester, no. 995). As explained by Sarah Whitfield, “in the course of his search for ‘a new poetic effectiveness which would bring us both charm and pleasure,’ Magritte had the idea of painting animals with human characteristics. The subjects he chose were the horse, whose mane is changed into the flowing tresses of a young girl, his own white Pomeranian and the pig dressed up in a suit. Writing to a friend about the painting of the horse, Magritte told him that the impression it made was ‘fairy-like’ and fairy tales in which animals dress, talk and behave like humans were, of course, the inspiration for this brief interlude of painting animal ‘portraits’. Magritte’s intentions were to show that the human qualities of animals were superior to those of man” (quoted in Magritte, exh. cat., The Hayward Gallery, London, 1992, p. 89).

Around 1960, Roz visited Brussels on a buying trip for Macy’s. After encountering Magritte’s work a few years earlier through the Copleys (and receiving an oil and gouache as gifts from them), Roz was eager to meet the artist. Alexander Iolas, who knew Roz and Mel, helped with the arrangements. Iolas had recently sold a number of the artist’s works and arranged for Roz to deliver the check to Magritte on her next trip to Belgium for work. She spent the day with the artist, speaking at great length about his work. It was on this visit that Roz acquired Le coeur du monde directly from him.

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