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Ren Magritte (1898-1967)
Ren Magritte (1898-1967)

La Tempte

Ren Magritte (1898-1967)
La Tempte
signed and dated 'Magritte 1927' (lower left)
pencil on paper
7.3/8 x 9.3/8 in. (18.7 x 23.7 cm.)
Drawn in 1927
Acquired directly from the artist by Harry Torczyner
A.M. Hammacher, Magritte, New York and London, 1974, p. 50, fig. 56 (illustrated).
H. Torczyner, Ren Magritte: signes et images, Paris, 1977, p. 43, no. 53 (illustrated).
H. Torczyner, L'Ami Magritte: correspondance et souvenirs, Antwerp, 1992, p. 305 (illustrated).
R. Magritte, Magritte/Torczyner: Letters Between Friends, New York, 1994, p. 106 (illustrated).

Lot Essay

The image of La Tempte, which Magritte never took further in an oil version, is one of the earliest occurrences of the bowler-hatted man, the artist's surrogate. Like many of Magritte's early Surrealist works, La Tempte is situated in an empty landscape. In this dream-like scene, the bowler-hatted man walks resolutely against the fierce wind of the storm, which is transformed into knives and forks as if it were the manifestation of some subconscious fear.

The transformation and endowment of everyday objects, such as knives and forks, with a potent force outside of their ordinary context, became one of the defining factors in Magritte's mature Surrealism, and is already present in the works of 1925-1927. In his autobiographical text La Ligne de la vie (1938), Magritte described his realization of this imagery and its effect on him:

"In 1925, I decided to break with this passive attitude as a direct result of an intolerable meditation in a popular saloon in Brussels: the mouldings of a door seemed to me to be endowed with a mysterious existence, and for a long time I was in touch with their reality. A feeling bordering upon terror was the point of departure for a willed action upon the real, for a transformation of life...

I became certain that I would need to live with danger, so that the world, and life, would correspond more closely to thought and to feeling." (Quoted in S. Gablik, Magritte, New York, 1985, p. 184).

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