Lot Sale Results

René Magritte

René Magritte
October 2015 - 2nd Session Online auction

Lot # 105

René Magritte
1898 - 1967 Flemish

La folie Almayer
gouache on paper circa 1957
signed
13 x 8 7/8 in  33 x 22.5cm

Provenance:
Galerie Lucien Bilinelli, Brussels, Belgium
Sold sale of Hôtel des Encans, Montreal, September 24, 1991, lot 170
Private Collection, Montreal

Literature:
David Sylvester, editor, René Magritte, Catalogue Raisonné, Vol. 4: Gouaches, Temperas, Watercolours and Papiers Collés 1918 - 1967, 1994, listed page 347, reproduced page 203, catalogue #1439

This rare gouache, dated circa 1957, is from a series of gouaches on paper executed by René Magritte in the 1950s, all based on a similar oil painting entitled La folie Almayer first realized in 1951 (catalogue raisonné #759). At this time, Magritte had gained international recognition as a prominent figure of Surrealism, and was the subject of important retrospectives in Europe and the United States.

La folie Almayer is the title of a novel written by Joseph Conrad and published in 1895 under the original title Almayer's Folly: A Story of an Eastern River. The novel, set in the late nineteenth century, relates the story of Kaspar Almayer, a Dutchman who went to Borneo with hopes of great wealth. Almayer's Folly is a surname given to a grand mansion built by the main character at a time when he still dreamt of a splendid future. As the story begins, Almayer stands on the veranda of his decaying house and looks at uprooted trees carried away to the ocean by torrents of muddy water while meditating on his past failure.

One can only speculate on the significance of the visual association between the images of the ruined tower and the uprooted tree in Magritte's La folie Almayer and their possible relation with the novel. However, the power of Magritte's paintings to captivate resides in their deliberately elusive, equivocal and enigmatic nature. Similar representations of towers can be found in at least two works executed by the artist prior to La folie Almayer. An image of a tower devoured by a caterpillar served to illustrate a poem by Magritte's friend Paul Éluard entitled Vieillir (Aging). That work is part of a collection of poems by Éluard - accompanied by 12 drawings by Magritte commissioned by the poet - published in 1921 under the title Les Nécéssités de la vie et les conséquences des rêves. Three towers are also represented in the haunting 1928 oil on canvas Le parfum de l'abîme (catalogue raisonné #237).

Magritte created an enduringly fascinating body of work exploring the complexity of the unconscious mind, the relation between language and visual representation, and the imagery of dreams - perfectly exemplified in La folie Almayer.

Estimate: $35,000 ~ $55,000 CAD

Sold For: $188,800.00 CAD (including buyer's premium)


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