Is René Magritte's wife hidden under his painting The Fifth Season?


Infrared reflectography revealed that The Fifth Season (1943) by the great Belgian surrealist René Magritte (1898-1967) hides the portrait of a woman under the top layer. It is probably the wife and muse of the artist himself, Georgette Berger.

For Magritte, a strict distinction applies between the real object, a pipe for example, and its representation in a painting. The scene is not a pipe, it's just a representation of it. And more precisely the result of the way the artist contemplates this object, with a sense of mystery. This leads to enigmatic compositions that balance on the border between reality and illusion. For example, he puts banal objects together in a strange arrangement, such as bowler hats with apples. Then don't ask yourself what it represents. It means nothing, just as little as you can comprehend the mysterious.

At the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, two specialists took a closer look at the paintings of René Magritte. Such as the oil on canvas of 50.5 by 60 cm The fifth season. We see two men in bowler hats holding framed paintings under their arms. In the underdrawing, the reflectogram shows a model with the same physiognomy as Georgette: oval face, nose and haircut. Perhaps Magritte painted over his portrait to save on expensive painting canvas.

Painting over is a tried and tested technique, but people are always curious what will emerge underneath.