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 the1930s, Magritte produced a life-size, three-dimensional version for a 1945 Surrealist display in Brussels.