René Magritte (1898-1976)
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René Magritte (1898-1976)

Le bouchon d'épouvante

René Magritte (1898-1976)
Le bouchon d'épouvante
signed and dated 'magritte 1966' (on the label)
bowler hat with printed label
Height: 5 3/8in. (13.5cm.)
Width (inc. rim): 10in. (25.4cm.)
Length (inc. rim): 12 3/8in. (31.4cm.)
Executed in 1966
Marcel Mabille, Rhode Saint-Genèse, Belgium.
Anon. sale, Sotheby's London, 3 December 1986, lot 254.
Galerie Isy Brachot, Brussels.
Acquired from the above by the present owner circa 1992.
Letter from Magritte to Marcel Mabille, 21 May 1966.
H. Torczyner, Magritte, Ideas and Images, New York, 1977, no. 339 (illustrated p. 164).
J. Meuris, René Magritte 1898 - 1967, Geneva, 1990 (illustrated p. 213)
D. Sylvester (ed.), René Magritte, Catalogue raisonné, vol. III, Oil Paintings, Objects and Bronzes 1949-1967, Antwerp, 1993, no. 1086 (illustrated p. 458).
Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Rétrospective Magritte, Oct.-Dec. 1978, no. 205 (illustrated in the catalogue). This exhibition later travelled to Paris, Musée Nationale d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou.
Brussels, Musée Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, René Magritte et le surréalisme en Belgique, Sept.-Dec. 1982, no. 192 (illustrated in the catalogue p. 284).
Lausanne, Fondation de l'Hermitage, René Magritte, June-Nov. 1987, no. 124 (illustrated in the catalogue).
Munich, Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, René Magritte, Nov. 1987-Feb. 1988, no. 131 (illustrated in the catalogue).
New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Surrealism: Two Private Eyes, June-Sept. 1999, no. 322 (illustrated in the catalogue p. 389).
Special notice

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Lot Essay

Le bouchon d'épouvante is one of only two versions of this object, the second version being lost. The origin of this surrealist object is revealed in a letter that Magritte wrote on 21 May 1966 to his friend and Surrealist colleague Marcel Mabille.
The letter reads:
'My dear Mabille,
In order to add to your collection of objects conceived by me, I suggest the following:'
(Here Magritte drew a bowler hat with the label USAGE EXTERNE on it).
'It is a bowler hat on wich a label is fixed. If you want to have this object here is the way to operate.
1st you purchase a black bowler hat
2nd you ask someone to print for you a label such as those that can be found on the old chemists' jars; and which is to be glued to the hat:
of the following approximate size...on golden paper, with black capital letters and a black frame... I will sign it here.'
(Here Magritte drew out the label precisely with USAGE EXTERNE magritte written on it.)
'The object is called Le bouchon d'épouvante (The Stopper of Horror).
'As a way of presenting this object, it seems to me that a sort of glass box - like a square aquarium - would be convenient? The hat presented within the box on a base.

See you one of these days, and very cordially yours.

René Magritte'


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