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"The Empire of Light" be Rene Magritte - Meaning and Analysis

31 March 2022
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Empire of Light - Rene Magritte. Canvas, oil. 48.6 x 58.7 cm


"The Empire of Light" painting by Rene Magritte caused a wide resonance among both artists and collectors. Ten years before his passing away, the artist managed to paint a work that would be wanted by all connoisseurs of art of that time, with no exception, for their collections. Its plot is impossibly ordinary and quite realistic. So, why could that picture impress collectors?

A street, one of many ones of the Belgian outback, where the future artist lived in his childhood, is shrouded in a gloomy veil of night. Only one streetlamp illuminates the dark road. The residents of some box houses have already turned on the lights ... It might seem that this is quite ordinary plot. Is there anything unusual about it? But if we take a closer look at the canvas, we will immediately understand how a small, but important detail was embarrassing and did not allow us to enjoy the tranquility of this place: the swirling alabaster clouds floating across the azure sky...

The morning sky dome and dark night street. Could there be anything more mysterious? Magritte used to say that this phenomenon of parallel day and night, the very thought of it, could be amazing and delighting. This is what he called poetry.

Indeed, the picture causes some controversy, as its concept refutes itself. A bright day is negated by a dark night and vice versa. And the process of catharsis, during which a human experiences purification caused by emotional destabilization, made people willing to get another Magritte puzzle.

Subsequently, the artist painted the entire series of works belonging to the same concept. In total, Rene made twenty-three replicas of "The Empire of Light": sixteen of them painted in oils, while seven others in gouache. This brought him great pleasure and significant profit. Rene Magritte did not possess enough time to complete his last replica of "The Empire of Light".
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