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The Prospect Of Madame Récamier

Painting, 1950, 60.5×80.5 cm

Description of the artwork «The Prospect Of Madame Récamier»

In the 1940s, Rene Magritte experimented with styles in his work and moved away from his "trademark" realistic-detached manner of writing. During the Second World War, the artist was influenced by Impressionism, in particular by the works of Renoir, and later, in 1947-1948, he was inspired by Fauvism. Because of the excessive rudeness, negligence, brightness and grotesque works, this period of Magritte's work is called "vache", which means "cow" in French.
However, after a failed exhibition in Paris in May 1948, the painter returned to the magical realism, so beloved by the public. The very next year, he began a series of works "Perspectives", reflecting his peculiar attitude towards death.

For the first time, the artist came across the theme of non-existence in childhood: one of his earliest memories was an abandoned cemetery, where Rene played with his girlfriend. It seems that there the boy met a painter who arranged an open air, and was fascinated by his work: “His art seemed to me magic, and he himself - endowed with a higher power,” Magritte later said. The second meeting with death turned out to be more indirect and painful: in 1912, when Rene was only 13 years old, his mother committed suicide. Although modern researchers argue with the replicated history and argue that, contrary to it, Magritte was not present when the body was removed from the water, this event could not but have an impact on his subsequent work.

Between 1949 and 1960, Rene Magritte created many important works, and the series with coffins replacing people became one of the most significant in his work. The first work on this topic was the Perspektiva gouache. It was followed by canvases-variations on "Balcony" by Manet, "Madame Recamier" by Gerard and "Madame Recamier" by David... Their feature was the exact reproduction of the poses of the heroes of the masterpieces, in whose place were wooden coffins.

In these works, Magritte used his favorite technique: an unexpected juxtaposition of objects and characters in a completely ordinary setting. In the case of this series, we do not know what happened to the heroes of the works - whether they died or underwent a merciless metamorphosis, but, one way or another, we are dealing with images in which life was transformed into death.

This is reflected in the names of the canvases: they all begin with the word "perspective", which is translated from French as "perspective" or "view of the future" - we are talking about the fate awaiting us all.

The painting "Perspective of Madame Recamier David" was painted by Rene Magritte in 1950 and then repeated in 1951. In both versions, the artist reproduces the neoclassical colors and detailing of the brushstrokes of the original, and also copies the interior that surrounded the socialite and the owner of the once popular salon in Paris. The only difference is that a coffin appeared in the place of a young woman, which, nevertheless, "sits" on the couch proudly and leaning back a little - just like Madame Recamier herself did, posing for David. The draped fabric draped over the sofa imitates the folds of the girl's dress, while the gilded details of the coffin paradoxically testify to her status.

We do not know whether "Perspective" is an aggressive act that "erases" female beauty, or whether it is a simple reminder of the inevitability of death, but in any case, this work surprises the viewer and knocks him out of the rut.

Currently, the work "Perspective" Madame Récamier "David" 1950 is in a private collection, and variant of 1951 exhibited at the National Gallery of Canada.

The text was prepared by Elina Bagmet

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About the artwork

This artwork was added since it is referred to in the materials below

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Allegorical scene

Style of art: Surrealism, Magical realism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas, Oil paints

Date of creation: 1950

Size: 60.5×80.5 cm

Artwork in selections: 19 selections