A new piece in solving Magritte puzzle

Conservators at Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery believe they have taken a major step towards solving the mystery of a lost painting by the Belgian surrealist René Magritte.


The artist painted La Pose Enchantée, a composition of two female nudes, in 1927, but the picture went missing and is only now known from a black and white catalogue photograph (shown here). However, in preparing another Magritte, the smaller La Condition humane of 1935 (below) conservators believe that rather than going missing the work may have been cut up by Magritte who then painted over it.


“The last reference to La Pose enchantée, a large painting of two female nudes, was in 1932, after which it completely disappeared. Even Magritte’s Catalogue Raisonné lists its whereabouts as unknown” said Dr Giorgia Bottinelli, curator of historic art at the museum.

“What happened to the missing painting is now, however, slowly coming to light in a remarkable series of events. It seems that for some reason Magritte must have decided to cut the painting into quarters, and then painted four completely different paintings over the top. So our painting La Condition humaine has in fact been successfully hiding part of La Pose enchantée for more than 80 years.”

In 2013 two paintings, one in New York and the other Stockholm, were found to be covering two parts of La Pose enchantée, but the other two quarters remained missing.

“The mystery of the whereabouts of Magritte’s La Pose enchantée has almost been solved” said Dr Bottinelli. “Remarkably, one quarter is in Norwich, one in New York and one in Stockholm. All we need to discover now is where the fourth and final, upper-right hand quarter is. Then this exciting art world jigsaw puzzle will be complete”.



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