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René Magritte (1898-1967)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more MASTERWORKS FROM A DISTINGUISHED EUROPEAN COLLECTION
René Magritte (1898-1967)

La clairvoyance

Details
René Magritte (1898-1967)
La clairvoyance
signed 'Magritte' (lower left)
gouache, watercolour and coloured pencil on paper
14 1/8 x 10 1/2 in. (36 x 26.8 cm.)
Executed circa 1962
Provenance
Margaret Krebs, Brussels.
Acquired from the above by the present owner circa 1965.
Literature
D. Sylvester, René Magritte, Catalogue raisonné, vol. IV, Gouaches, Temperas, Watercolours and Papiers Collés 1918-1967, London, 1994, no. 1504, p. 241 (illustrated).
R. Hughes, ed., Magritte en poche, Antwerp, 2009, p. 424 (illustrated p. 371).
Exhibited
Munich, Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, René Magritte, November 1987 - February 1988, no. 100 (illustrated).
Yamaguchi, Musée préfectural, René Magritte, May - July 1988, no. 127, p. 152 (illustrated); this exhibition later travelled to Tokyo, Musée National d'Art Moderne, May - July 1988.
Oostende, Provinciaal Museum voor Moderne Kunst, René Magritte, June - August 1990, no. 63, pp. 206 & 281 (illustrated p. 207; titled 'La clairvoyante').
Verona, Galleria d'Arte Moderna, Palazzo Forti, Da Magritte a Magritte, July - October 1991.
Knokke, Grand communal, Magritte, June - September 2001, no. 49., p. 127 (illustrated p. 72).
Brussels, Musée Magritte, Brussels, on loan since 2009.
Special Notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Anna Povejsilova
Anna Povejsilova

Lot Essay

Against a crepuscular backdrop, La clairvoyance shows a tree standing next to one of René Magritte's celebrated and iconic 'leaf-trees'. In this gouache from around 1962, Magritte has juxtaposed a tree from the 'real', objective realm with the leaf-tree, one of his most favoured motifs. The leaf-tree had first appeared in his 1935 painting, La géante, which essentially allowed the artist to answer the Surreal 'problem' posed by the tree, forming part of a sequence of pictorial investigations and revelations from the period. The creation of the monumental leaf had been the result of one of Magritte's great moments of inspiration: it conflated the macro and the micro, the organism as a whole and its constituent, fragmentary parts, introducing a new understanding of the character of the tree. He was melding these two highly recognisable elements into one image, moving on from the juxtapositions of seemingly unrelated objects that had featured in his earlier works and instead focussing on the 'elective affinities' between aspects of existence. In La clairvoyance, that transformation and revelation is made all the more explicit through the comparison with the other tree.

The notion of this combination of types of tree had already occurred in a painting from 1957 entitled Le concert du matin. In that picture, a horseman was seen riding through a forest of leaf-trees which also sported a single 'normal' tree; a house with glowing windows, indicating night, was shown peeking through the leaves beneath a day-lit sky. While this marked the genesis of La clairvoyance, the subject may have suggested itself to Magritte in the early 1960s as he had created a painting called Les barricades mystérieuses which featured similar motifs. This was intended as the design for a larger work, an important monumental mural decorating the Palais des Congrès in Brussels, which Magritte had agreed to provide a few years earlier and which is still there to this day.

While it was possibly as a result of this return to the subject of Le concert du matin that Magritte returned to this similar juxtaposition, in La clairvoyance he has refined the formula explored in those predecessors, taking the contrast between the two types of trees as the main subject for the picture. By removing the extraneous details of the rest of the composition, Magritte has created a lyrical work that is all the more concentrated and direct in its demand that the viewer reconsider the sheer mystery and wonder of the tree.

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