Magritte can still steal the show


"A la rencontre du plaisir" (Towards Pleasure), by Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte, was auctioned at Christie's in London for €22.4 million on 5 February.

This work, painted in 1962, depicts the rear view of a man wearing a bowler hat. He is contemplating a moonlit forest landscape. The surrealist touch is the incongruous presence of a stage curtain on the left of the canvas.. The viewpoint is thus changed, as the man depicted in the painting and looking at the forest is himself being observed, by imaginary characters in front of the curtain, on the one hand, and by the person contemplating the painting, on the other. The character catches the eye of the person who is looking at the painting and forgets the landscape and the moon illuminating it.


The owners, who were friends of the artist, bought the work directly from Magritte and it had remained in the family of its first purchasers until now. So this was the first time it had appeared on the art market. Experts had estimated it at between €9.4 and €14.2 million, so the amount of the sale far exceeded expectations. This is the second highest amount fetched by surrealist work at Christie's.