René Magritte. The Menaced Assassin. Brussels, 1927

René Magritte

The Menaced Assassin

Brussels, 1927

On view
Oil on canvas
59 1/4" x 6' 4 7/8" (150.4 x 195.2 cm)
Kay Sage Tanguy Fund
Object number
© 2015 C. Herscovici, Brussels / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Painting and Sculpture
This work is on view on Floor 5, in Painting and Sculpture I, Gallery 10, with 11 other works online.
René Magritte has 14 works online.
There are 2,101 paintings online.

Painted for his first solo exhibition, in 1927, The Menaced Assassin is one of Magritte's largest and most theatrical compositions. Like many of the Surrealists, Magritte was an avid fan of the pre-World War I popular crime fiction series Fantômas; he borrowed the placement of the two detectives' figures flanking the doorframe from the Le Mort Qui Tue (The Murderous Corpse), a film from the series first released in 1913. It was Magritte's ambition to create a similarly immersive and fantastical world on the canvas, here made manifest in the unsolvable narrative of this enduringly mysterious painting.

Gallery label from Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926–1938 , September 28, 2013–January 12, 2014

Provenance Research Project
This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.
Paul Gustave Van Hecke (1887 – 1967) of Galerie L’Epoque (1927 – 1929, then stock transferred to Galerie Le Centaure), Brussels. 1927 – 1929
Galerie Le Centaure (1921-1931), then Galerie Walter Schwarzenberg (1931-32), Brussels. 1929 – [likely until February 1932]
E.L.T. (Edouard Léon Théodore) Mesens (1903 – 1971), Brussels and London (from 1938). Acquired in the early 1930s [possibly in 1932] – until 1966. (On loan to Casino de Knokke, Belgium, from 1962 to 1965.)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchased from Mesens with the Kay Sage Tanguy Fund, 1966

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