René Magritte (1898-1967)
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René Magritte (1898-1967)

Portrait de Georgette Magritte

René Magritte (1898-1967)
Portrait de Georgette Magritte
signed 'Magritte' (upper left)
oil on canvas
21½ x 17 5/8 in. (54.6 x 44.8 cm.)
Painted in 1944
Léontine Hoyez-Berger (Georgette's sister), a gift from the artist.
Georgette Magritte, by descent from the above in 1980; sale, The Remaining Contents of the Studio of René Magritte, Sotheby's, London, 2 July 1987, lot 824.
Private collection, America, by whom acquired at the above sale; sale, Sotheby's, London, 9 February 2005, lot 503.
H. Torczyner, Magritte: Ideas and Images, New York, 1977, no. 429 (illustrated p. 195).
B. Stoeltie, 'After Magritte', in The World of Interiors, London, April 1986, p. 143 (illustrated in a photograph showing the interior of Magritte's home).
D. Sylvester, ed., René Magritte, Catalogue raisonné, vol. II, Oil Paintings and Objects 1931-1948, London, 1993, no. 570 (illustrated p. 346).
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Lot Essay

Portrait de Georgette Magritte is dated by Sylvester to the summer of 1944, and was painted as a gift for Georgette's sister. 'This undated portrait, Georgette Magritte told us, was painted from life and was done as a present for her sister Léontine Hoyez-Berger. It is one of only four canvases in which Magritte carried out to the letter his avowed intention to make images in vignette form [Magritte, letter to Mariën, 22 August 1944] and must therefore have followed cat. 569, that is to say, in the late summer of 1944' (D. Sylvester, ed., op. cit., p. 346). The first image that Magritte painted in vignette form was Image à la maison verte, 1944 (S.569, private collection, France), in which the houses and violin are surrounded by an intense, swirling background which adds movement and vibrancy to the composition. Following on from this work, Magritte then employed the same means to frame the present portrait of Georgette, where her blue dress seems to disintegrate into the swirling form and her head and neck emerge powerfully from the chaos of the background. This painting was followed by three further portraits, of Jacqueline Nonkels, Lou Cosyn and Eliane Peeters (S.571-573), which are all characterised by the same swirling background as the present work, that of Lou Cosyn also presenting the same direct gaze with which Georgette stares out at the viewer.

Stylistically, Portrait de Georgette Magritte falls squarely within Magritte's 'Renoir' or 'Impressionist' period. 'The German occupation', Magritte wrote, 'marked a turning point in my art. Before the war, my paintings expressed anxiety, but the experiences of war have taught me that what matters in art is to express charm. I live in a very disagreeable world, and my work is meant as a counter-offensive' (quoted in S. Gablik, Magritte, London, 1985, p. 146).

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