Christie’s The Art of the Surreal Evening Sale on Tuesday 2 February 2016
Painted in 1942, Mesdemoiselles de l'Isle Adam by René Magritte (1898-1967) showcases the layers of wit, beauty, mystery and subversion that characterised the greatest of his pictures from the period (estimate: £2-3 million). It is telling that this picture has had such a distinguished history: after remaining in Magritte's hands for around a decade, it was acquired by his friend Justin Rakofsky, before entering the collection of Gustave Nellens, the owner of the casino at Knokke-le-Zoute, Belgium, which was decorated with monumental murals by Magritte. As with the greatest of Magritte's works, this painting plays with the viewer's preconceptions of art, and therefore of life. Mesdemoiselles de l'Isle Adam dates from a crucial watershed in Magritte's life when, in a bold response to the Second World War which had engulfed Magritte, his work moved toward a lighter and brighter approach.
Christie’s Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale in London on 23 June, 2015
Offered from a European Private Collection, Le baiser, circa 1957, a gouache on paper by René Magritte (1898-1967), presents one of Magritte’s most poetic subjects: the oiseau de ciel, or ‘Sky-Bird’ (estimate: £1.2-1.8 million). This work presents the viewer with a rare and yet greatly celebrated motif that first entered his oeuvre in 1940 in
Le retour, now in the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique.
The ‘Sky-Bird’ would come to gain international recognition in part through the later adoption by the Belgian national air carrier, Sabena, of a variant of this theme. In the case of the Sabena image, entitled
L'oiseau de ciel
and painted in 1966, the silhouette of a bird was shown filled with a cloudy, day-lit sky against a dark background, whereas in Le baiser, created roughly a decade earlier, Magritte has shown the silhouette as a pool of star-speck led night sky against the backdrop of day, with the sea and a beach underneath.
Le baiser, circa 1957, is one of four works by Magritte in the sale, which also includes
La grande marée, circa 1957 (estimate: £600,000 – 900,000)
and Le chant d'amour, circa 1962 (estimate: £300,000-500,000)
which are both offered from a distinguished private Belgian Collection, as well as
L'art de la conversation, 1955, (estimate: £300,000-500,000).
which is being sold from a private American Collection The market for works by Magritte is particularly strong with Christie’s selling all nine examples offered last February in London, which constituted the most extraordinary and extensive selection of works by the artist to come to the market since the landmark Harry Torczyner sale in 1998 at Christie’s New York.
Art of The Surreal on 4 February 2015