Know Your Artist — By the Numbers: René Magritte

Know Your Artist — By the Numbers: René Magritte

René Magritte (1898-1967) was an internationally acclaimed Surrealist artist. He is known for creating bizarre and thought-provoking images that evoked mystery. Born in Lessines, Belgium, Magritte started drawing lessons at a young age. He studied at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. In 1922, he married Georgette Berger, who would one day figure in one of his rare works. His early paintings were Impressionist in style, but later Futurism and Figurative Cubism influenced his style. 

Through his career span, Magritte worked as a commercial artist, producing advertising and book designs that would later help shape his fine art. He often spent his free time creating experimental works that evolved into Surrealism, a style he enjoyed.   

“The Lost Jockey (1926)” and “The Threatened Assassin (1927)” were among his earliest works painted in Surrealist style. He moved to Paris in 1927 to be more involved with the Surrealists in France. During this three-year period, he painted one of his most well-known pieces, “The Treachery of Images (1929).”

After his return to Brussels, Magritte continued to create Surrealist works. He painted familiar objects like clouds, pipes, bowler hats, green apples, rocks and windows in unfamiliar spaces, creating works of poetic imagery.

Two of Magritte’s rare works will be offered this month at Christie’s and Sotheby’s Surrealist auctions. On February 26, Sotheby’s “Surrealist Art Evening Sale” will feature “L’Etoile du matin,” a painting that juxtaposes the profile of his wife and that of a Native American Indian who is dressed in a traditional ceremonial headdress. On February 27, Christie’s “The Art of the Surreal Evening Sale” will feature a rare Magritte work, “Le lieu commun (1964).” The painting, which depicts two perspectives of a man in a bowler hat in an ambiguous landscape, has never been at auction. It is estimated at £15 million to £25,000,000, and Christie’s expects the painting to set a world record for the artist. 

In the last decade, René Magritte came in the list of top 10 Surrealists of all-time, according to BASI. Magritte’s record year in the past two decades was 2017, when 58 lots brought in a total $88.9 million. The number of lots on offer in the past decade reached a peak of 122 lots in 2015 — one of the best years for Magritte’s artworks when total sales nearly reached $81 million.

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Founder: Louise Blouin  


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