René Magritte. The Portrait. Brussels, 1935

René Magritte

The Portrait

Brussels, 1935

Not on view
Oil on canvas
28 7/8 x 19 7/8" (73.3 x 50.2 cm)
Gift of Kay Sage Tanguy
Object number
© 2015 C. Herscovici, Brussels / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Painting and Sculpture
This work is not on view.
René Magritte has 14 works online.
There are 2,112 paintings online.

A simply laid–out meal is not as simple as it seems. Each singular object is rendered with equally sharp focus and pictorial realism, yet any expectation of everyday reality is overturned, above all by the unblinking eye that stares inexplicably from a slice of ham on a plate. The Belgian Surrealist writer Louis Scutenaire described Magritte's objects as totems, and the spare arrangement here points toward the significance of a ritual meal. The perspective of this still life tilts dramatically toward the surface of the picture plane, as if to confront or perhaps invite the viewer to join the table. After exhibiting the canvas in several international Surrealist exhibitions in the 1930s, Magritte produced a lifesize, three–dimensional version for a 1945 Surrealist display in Brussels.

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.
E.L.T. (Edouard Léon Théodore) Mesens (1903-1971), Brussels and London (from 1938). Purchased from Magritte in 1935 - sold in 1940 to Onslow-Ford
Gordon Onslow-Ford, San Francisco Bay Area, California. Purchased from Mesens, 1940 - until at least 1949
Mrs. Yves Tanguy / Kay Sage Tanguy, (1898-1963), Woodbury, Connecticut
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Kay Sage Tanguy, 1956

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