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

Nu allongé

RENÉ MAGRITTE (1898-1967)
Nu allongé
signed and dated 'René Magritte 1923' (lower right)
oil on canvas
17 3/4 x 23 3/4 in. (45.2 x 60.4 cm.)
Painted in 1923
Jean Van Parys, Brussels.
Mme Van Parys, Brussels (by descent from the above, by 1978).
Galerie Isy Brachot, Brussels (by 1990).
Private collection, Geneva; sale, Christie's, London, 3 February 2004, lot 234.
Acquired at the above sale by the late owner.
D. Sylvester, ed., René Magritte: Catalogue Raisonné, Oil Paintings, 1916-1930, London, 1992, vol. I, p. 154, no. 57 (illustrated).
Liège, Salon Triennal de Liège.
Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts and Paris, Musée national d'art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Rétrospective Magritte, October 1978-April 1979, no. 7 (illustrated).
Paris, Musée national d'art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Art et Publicité, October 1990-February 1991.
Verona, Galleria d'Arte Moderna di Palazzo Forti, da Magritte a Magritte, July-October 1991, p. 57, no. 7 (illustrated in color).
Brussels, Galerie Isy Brachot, René Magritte et la pensée, January-February 1993.
Brussels, Musée Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgiques, Magritte, March-June 1998, p. 56, no. 13 (illustrated in color).

Lot Essay

Draped in an opulent crimson fabric, an alluring woman rests on her side, arms clasped behind her head as she stares directly out of the picture as if aware of her spectators. The sitter is Georgette Magritte, the artist’s wife, whom he met as a teenager and married just a year after the present work was painted. Set in an obscure, hollow interior, Georgette assumes the academic positioning of recline. Recalling his predecessors such as Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and Titian, Magritte simultaneously conjures this classical motif while introducing it to the future. Light appears to shine from both sides of the room, at once highlighting our sitter from the left causing shadows to fall to her right; while concurrently shining across the background from the right, cascading shadows towards the left. While the red drapery and Georgette’s body hold a semblance of texture and depth, Magritte has mostly flatted the surface of the painting by juxtaposing planes of pure color. In this manner, his wife’s body appears to lose it’s depth and definition, so that her body become elements in Magritte’s exploration of shape and color. Further, the angularity of this linear construction is contrasted by the grace and fluidity of the line that describes the shape of the body, in turn creating the dynamic rhythms of the Futurists, while also presenting an image of erotic languor. These perspectival riddles coupled with enigmatic spatial dislocations, would become foundational components of Magritte’s unique approach to Surrealism.
Painted at a crucial turning point in the artist’s early career, Nu allongé marks the beginnings of Magritte’s abandonment of the cubo-futurist style of his earlier work and the early stages of his new, unique Surrealist language. An often cited catalyst for this artistic epiphany is the artist’s introduction to Giorgio de Chirico’s 1914 masterpiece Le chant d’amour (The Museum of Modern Art, New York). The Italian painter’s juxtaposition of unrelated objects struck Magritte with the force of an epiphany, revealing to him how art could be freed from strictly formal investigation and imbued with the power of poetry. Magritte would later say of the painting that, for the first time, “I saw thought,” and recognized in this picture that it “represented a complete break with the mental habits peculiar to artists who are prisoners of talent, virtuosity, and all the little aesthetic specialities. It was a new vision through which the spectator recognizes his own isolation and hears the silence of the world” (quoted in A. Danchev, René Magritte, London, 2020, p. 114). Nu allongé marks this dramatic shift in theoretical and aesthetic ideals which would soon occupy the artist for the remainder of his career.

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