Paintings from the Van Parys Family
René Magritte. Shéhérazade, 1947. Gouache on paper. 7 x 5 1/2 inches. © 2020 C. Herscovici / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Located on the first floor of The Baker Museum
Magritte: Reflections of Another World comprises six works of art — five oils and one gouache — by Belgian artist René Magritte (1898-1967). Renowned for his witty Surrealist paintings of everyday objects in strange surroundings, Magritte preferred that his artworks remain mysterious and open to interpretation.
Today, Magritte’s style is widely identifiable, but, for most of his life, he struggled to attain recognition. He was instrumental in forming the Belgian Surrealist Group in 1924, committed to social and artistic revolution, and he later moved to Paris with his wife, where he became one of the first painters to join the Paris Surrealists. Magritte continued to paint through the 1930s, even with financial success still eluding him, and his reputation grew steadily through the decade. Although Surrealists and critics alike disapproved of his 1940s experiments, he returned to favor in the 1950s and was honored in 1965 with a retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art.
It was possibly during his years in Paris that Magritte came to the attention of Jean Van Parys (1891-1964), a Belgian attorney who spent two years in Paris immersing himself in the city’s avant-garde art and culture. Upon returning to Brussels, Van Parys began collecting paintings by contemporary Belgian artists, including Magritte. Over the next three decades, he and his wife amassed one of the largest private collections of Magritte’s artworks. The Van Parys and Magritte families also developed an intimate friendship during that time.
Magritte: Reflections of Another World features six works that were part of Van Parys’ collection and are on a five-year loan to Artis—Naples, The Baker Museum from Van Parys’ daughter. These works have never previously been shown in North America, and none have exhibited publicly in over 48 years. All can be found in Magritte’s Catalogue Raisonné.
The origin of the exhibition is a remarkable story of individual patronage and a testament to the community of Naples, Florida. During the Naples Philharmonic’s March 2019 performance of Stravinsky’s The Firebird, a subscriber approached an usher with her business card and an unusual story. The usher connected the patron to the appropriate museum staff, to whom she made the offer to loan a collection of works that had been in her family’s possession for more than 60 years. As an avid supporter of Artis—Naples, it was the lender’s wish that the works be shown at an institution that is so meaningful to her personally.
Works shown in this exhibition
The six paintings in the exhibition are conceptually diverse and reflect very distinct moments throughout the artist’s life:
L’ombre monumentale (The Monumental Shadow), 1932
Le civilisateur (The Civilizer), 1944
La tour d’ivoire (The Ivory Tower), 1945
L’ile au trésor (Treasure Island), 1945
Les grandes vacances (Summer Holidays), 1956
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René Magritte. La Tour d’Ivoire (The Ivory Tower), 1945. Oil on canvas. 31 1/2 x 23 3/4 inches. On loan from the Van Parys family. © 2022 C. Herscovici / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
René Magritte. Les Grandes Vacances (Summer Holidays), 1956. Oil on canvas. 25 1/2 x 19 3/4 inches. On loan from the Van Parys family. © 2022 C. Herscovici / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
This presentation of Magritte: Reflections of Another World has been organized by Artis—Naples, The Baker Museum and guest curator, Dr. Elliott King.