Magritte began work on the large-scale oil painting Le parfum de l'abîme in 1928 (S.236). Presumably shortly thereafter, he painted a second version of the subject matter, the present work. Haunting and mysterious, this painting can be seen as a detail of the three leaning towers perched on the edge of a cliff.
In discussing his own work, Magritte commented, 'My paintings show objects deprived of the sense they usually have. They are shown in unusual contexts... Ordinary objects fascinate me. A door is a familiar object but at the same time it is a bizarre object, full of mystery... I suppose you can call me a surrealist. The word is alright. You have to use one word or another. But one should really say realism, although that usually refers to daily life in the street. It should be that realism means the real with the mystery that is in the real' (quoted in 'The Enigmatic Visions of René Magritte', in Life, 22 April 1966, pp. 113-119).
Noble for its unique imagery and delicate execution, the present oil evokes a powerful sense of the sublime and the mystery of the universe. Magritte demonstrates that many curious and strange realities can coexist and that these wonders can be perceived if one looks through 'the hole in the wall'.