Magritte Classic ‘Dominion Of Light’, Works By Monet Up For Auction In London

London – Rene Magritte’s paradoxical painting ‘L’Empire des Lumieres’ (Dominion of Light) – depicting a night – time street under a bright blue sky – will be auctioned in London next week and could bring a record price for a work by the Belgian surrealist.

The painting, described by auction house Sotheby’s as ‘a masterpiece of 20th – century art’, has an estimate in excess of more than 45 million pounds ($60 million).

It is the star attraction of Sotheby’s spring auction of modern and contemporary art that also features six paintings by impressionist Claude Monet as well as works by Picasso, Van Gogh, David Hockney and others.

The 1961 ‘Dominion of Light’ is one in a series of 17 similar oils and 10 other works depicting the scene that Magritte produced from the 1940s to the 1960s.

The one going to auction on March 2 was painted for Anne – Marie Gillion Crowet, a friend of Magritte and the daughter of his patron, the Belgian collector Pierre Crowet. It has remained in the family’s hands ever since.

The painting shows a darkened street in Brussels, with silhouettes of trees and a house with light glowing from windows and a street lamp. Above them is blue sky and white clouds.

‘It’s probably one of his most famous images’, Helena Newman, Sotheby’s worldwide head of impressionist and modern art, told Reuters.

‘You’ve got this extraordinary, slightly disquieting juxtaposition of day and night at the same time. It is quintessentially surreal. It questions nature and existence’.

She said the estimate of in excess of 60 million dollars ‘brings it up to record price territory for Magritte’.

The image has shown up in other guises. A scene in the 1973 movie ‘The Exorcist’ and its poster paid homage to it.

It was also the inspiration for the cover of singer – songwriter Jackson Browne’s 1974 album ‘Late for the Sky’, with a 50’s Chevy parked outside a house in California. The artwork credit says ‘if it’s all reet with Magritte’.

The auction includes five works by Monet, painted in the 1880s to 1890s as he moved away from impressionism and with a combined estimate of $50 million. A sixth painting of water ilies produced in the 1910s is also offer.

The five include a depiction of a cluster of chrysanthemums inspired by the Japanese print maker Hokusai, a scene of ice floes on the River Seine, and the beach at Dippe.

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