Rene Magritte

René François Ghislain Magritte

Rene Magritte
Rene Magritte - Photo by Steve Schapiro

Born: 21 November 1898; Lessines, Belgium

Died: 15 August 1967; Brussels, Belgium

Periods: Early years, Surrealist Paris years, Brussels pre-war and war years, Sunlit Period, Vache Period, Mature Period, Later Period

Field: painting

Nationality: Belgian

Art Movement: Surrealism

A Belgian surrealist painter, Rene Magritte’s witty and thought-provoking paintings sought to have viewers question their perceptions of reality, and become hypersensitive to the world around them. Magritte’s mother was a suicidal woman, which led her husband, Magritte’s father, to lock her up in her room. One day, she escaped, and was found down a nearby river dead, having drowned herself. According to legend, 13 year old Magritte was there when they retrieved the body from the river. As she was pulled from the water, her dress covered her face. This later became a theme in many of Magritte’s paintings in the 1920’s, portraying people with cloth covering their faces.

He began drawing lessons at age ten, and in 1916, went to study a the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels, where he found the instruction uninspiring and unsuited to his tastes. He did not begin his actual painting career until after serving in the Belgian infantry for a short time, and working at a wallpaper company as a draftsman and producing advertising posters. He was able to paint full time due to a short-lived contract with Galerie le Centaure, allowing him to present in his first exhibition, which was poorly received.

Magritte made his living producing advertising posters in a business he ran with his brother, as well as creating forgeries of Picasso, Braque and Chirico paintings. His experience with forgeries also allowed him to create false bank notes during the German occupation of Belgium in World War II, helping him to survive the lean economic times.

Through creating common images and placing them in extreme contexts, Magritte sough to have his viewers question the ability of art to truly represent an object. In his paintings, he often played with the perception of an image and the fact that the painting of the image could never actually be the object. His artistic interpretations influenced many modern artists, including Andy Warhol, Jan Verdoodt and Jasper Johns. His art, which was especially popular during the 1960’s, has also influenced numerous songs, movies, and books.

Wikipedia article

Artworks by Style

Art Deco



  • Portrait of Pierre Bourgeois - Rene Magritte

    Portrait of Pierre Bourgeois, 1920

  • Pebble - Rene Magritte

    Pebble, 1948

  • Depths of pleasure - Rene Magritte

    Depths of pleasure, 1948

  • The staging post - Rene Magritte

    The staging post, 1948


Artworks by Periods

Early years

Surrealist Paris years

Brussels pre-war and war years

Sunlit Period

Vache Period

Mature Period

Later Period

Artworks by Series

Advertisment for "Norine"

Tactile conformism

Artworks by Genre

literary painting

allegorical painting

symbolic painting

genre painting



nude painting (nu)




animal painting

still life





Artworks by Technique