René Magritte. The Portrait. Brussels, 1935
René Magritte

The Portrait

Brussels, 1935
Not on view
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
28 7/8 x 19 7/8" (73.3 x 50.2 cm)
Credit
Gift of Kay Sage Tanguy
Object number
574.1956
Copyright
© 2015 C. Herscovici, Brussels / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Department
Painting and Sculpture

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

Additional text

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.

Gallery label from 2015

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

If you have any questions or information to provide about the listed works, please e-mail provenance@moma.org or write to:

Provenance Research Project
The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street
New York, NY 10019

Pictured above: Vasily Kandinsky. Panel for Edwin R. Campbell No. 2 (detail). 1914. Oil on canvas, 64 1/8 x 48 3/8" (162.6 x 122.7 cm). Nelson A. Rockefeller Fund (by exchange). © 2009 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

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Image permissions

In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053; requests@artres.com; artres.com. Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124; firenze@scalarchives.com; scalarchives.com.

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to text_permissions@moma.org.

Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource