René Magritte (1898-1967)
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René Magritte (1898-1967)

Le séducteur

René Magritte (1898-1967)
Le séducteur
signed 'Magritte' (lower left); inscribed '"Le séducteur"' (on the reverse)
gouache and watercolour on paper
10½ x 14 in. (26.8 x 35.3 cm.)
Executed in 1960
Anonymous sale, Palais Galliéra, Paris, 14 June 1963, lot 31.
Anonymous sale, Beaux-Arts, Brussels, 7 June 2004, lot 123.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Letter from Magritte to Iolas, 28 December 1959.
D. Sylvester, René Magritte, catalogue raisonné, Gouaches, Temperas, Watercolours and Papiers Collés 1918-1967, vol. IV, Antwerp, 1994, no. 1478, p. 226 (illustrated).
Paris, Galerie Rive Droite, René Magritte, November - February 1960, no. 16.
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Giovanna Bertazzoni
Giovanna Bertazzoni


Executed in 1960, Le séducteur is filled with the mystery and wonder of René Magritte's pictorial universe. Against the crimson sky of the evening is the silhouette of a tall ship in full sail. Yet this silhouette is formed from the water itself, the ship appearing to be made from the very element upon which it was intended to float. This gouache is a reprisal of a theme that Magritte had first explored in a painting of the same title, dating from 1950 and now in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

The theme of Le séducteur, the seducer, was one to which Magritte would refer when discussing the genesis of his pictures, serving almost as his casebook. Only a couple of years after he completed this gouache, he would explain: 'I believe it is wrong to confuse 'reality', that is, the world in its entirety , with the possible image of certain realities, because in that case a painted image would be deemed 'less real' than a cannon or a loaf of bread, for instance... As for my painting, it does not show anything imaginary... It shows total reality, i.e. reality with its mystery, not separated from its mystery, (To see a boat on the water is a vision of reality separated from mystery. To see water in the shape of a boat, is to evoke mystery and to see the water and the boat). To see the image of water which has the shape of a boat is not too bad a manifestation of the world, I think?' (Magritte, quoted in D. Sylvester (ed.), S. Whitfield & M. Raeburn, René Magritte Catalogue Raisonné, Vol.III, London, 1993, p. 174).