René Magritte, the Belgian surrealist known for his eerily prescient physical manifestations of existential dread, is one of those painters that instantly draws your attention even if his work isn’t exactly to your taste. His indelible imagery of two lovers kissing with fabric over their mouths, or a green apple floating in front of a man’s face hover in your imagination like half-remembered dreams. Now, Christie’s Paris has announced that for the first time, Magritte’s La Vengeance will appear on the auction circuit. It’s a painting that had remained in the collection of distinguished Impressionist enthusiast Francis Gross for many years, and it’s anticipated to sell for between 6 and 8 million euros.
La Vengeance is a painting within a painting; it was produced in 1936 during Magritte’s peak production years. In the frame, a smaller canvas of clouds sits within a pink-walled room that also holds a silver ball balanced interestingly on the wood floors. The clouds in the canvas spill out into the room and hover in the still indoor air like ghosts, implying that the artist is making a comment on his own ability to recreate the real world in his art. The painting was originally purchased in 1936 by the surrealist poet Paul Colinet before eventually being snapped up by Francis Gross in the 1980s.
“Among the many works in the [Gross] collection is La Vengeance, a previously unseen work by René Magritte, whose sale is already shaping up to be one of the major art market event of the year,” Pierre Martin-Vivier of Christie’s said in a statement. “We are confident that this important collection will attract collectors and art lovers from all over the world.”
New on the Block is a series that looks at the most notable or unusual items to go up for auction each week.